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Farm bill could get pushed to February

WASHINGTON (NAFB) – According to Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, timing is the answer to farm bill questions, such as whether or not dairy and his payment limits are squared away.

“If they can get an agreement, that they don’t have to have all the conferees make the final decisions on anything, it will probably immediately go to the floor. If they have compromises that they can’t work out among the four of them that will satisfy the House and Senate conferees without being in a meeting, then they’re going to have to have a meeting.”

And that could make it harder to get a bill passed by the target date by month’s end.

Grassley was skeptical of a proposal to hand over to USDA the job of reformulating Grassley’s payment limits provision, especially the requirement that farm managers be actively engaged in farming. Grassley says the Administration could have already limited manager abuses of farm payments, but hasn’t.

Separately, Grassley is working to spearhead the Senate effort opposing EPA’s proposal to cut renewable fuel production this year by 16%.

[Illinois Senator Dick Durbin] and I are leading a bipartisan effort to voice Senate opposition to this proposed change in the RFS mandate,” Grassley explains. “We’re circulating a letter to the administration, and expect to have a large number of Senators sign on of both political parties.”

The EPA comment period closes next Tuesday, January 28, though Grassley says if EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy extends it, such an extension would signal she’s considering a way to satisfy all parties. Ultimately, Grassley thinks the decision will rest with the President.

“The White House is going to have to step in, I think is what it’s going to take in the final analysis.” Grassley adds that, “if [President Obama] doesn’t step in, this is a big win for Big Oil, and I can’t see the President wanting, since he’s been on Big Oil, wanting to tax them more, not drilling on public land, I would think he wouldn’t want to give Big Oil a big victory, but that’s what he’s going to do.”

On Thursday in Des Moines, Grassley says Iowa Governor Terry Branstad is holding a field hearing on the Renewable Fuel Standard; something EPA was asked to do, but declined.