Comments of farmer and Senator Jon Tester on the floor of the U.S. Senate speaking in favor of stricter farm bill payment limits.
Mr. President, I thank Senator Baucus for allowing me to speak. I also thank the good Senator from North Dakota.
Mr. President, I rise to speak on amendment No. 464, the Grassley-Dorgan amendment on farm payment limitations, making those limitations max out at $250,000. That is a quarter of a million dollars. That is how much money that is going to be maxed out for individual family farmers to get. That is a reasonable request. I think it makes the farm bill more defendable to the American people.
I am a family farmer. I understand family farmers are the backbone of this country. They keep our food security there so we do not have people going hungry. What the farm program has meant to do, and has always been meant to be, is a safety net for farmers so when market prices drop they have that safety net to depend upon. There is not one farmer I know of who does not want to get their income from the marketplace. So we need to keep it that way.
We need to encourage fair trade deals. We need to encourage more competition in the marketplace. We need to make sure our freight rates are, what I would call, not abusive, if we are going to keep family farmers on the land.
Some 30 years ago, the student body in the high school I went to in a farming community had 160 kids in it. Today, that same student body is less than half that size because we have not had a farm bill that has worked for the farmers.
This amendment makes sense because it puts a cap of $250,000 on the benefits from farm program subsidies and eliminates those big agribusinesses that have been taking money they do not need, quite frankly. They do not need that safety net that the farm program subsidies provide in our farm program.
So with that, Mr. President, I ask that all the Members of the Senate support amendment No. 464, the Grassley-Dorgan amendment, because it is the right thing to do.
Thank you, Senator Tester.