FARM, NUTRITION, AND BIOENERGY ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - July 27, 2007)
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Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.
The Acting CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
The text of the amendment is as follows:
Amendment No. 25 offered by Mr. Putnam:
At the appropriate place in the conservation title, add the following new section:
SEC. 2__. ADJUSTED GROSS INCOME LIMITATION REGARDING PAYMENTS UNDER CONSERVATION PROGRAMS.
Section 1001D(b)(1) of the Food Security Act of 1985 (7 U.S.C. 1308-3a(b)(1)), as amended by section 1504 [and the manager's amendment, pages 34 and 35], is further amended by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:
``(C) SPECIAL RULE FOR CONSERVATION PROGRAMS.--Notwithstanding subparagraphs (A) and (B), in the case of covered benefits described in paragraph (2)(C), an individual or entity shall not be eligible to receive any benefit described in such paragraph (2) during a crop year if the average adjusted gross income of the individual or entity exceeds $1,000,000, unless not less than 75 percent of the average adjusted gross income of the individual or entity is derived from farming, ranching, or forestry operations, as determined by the Secretary.''.
The Acting CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to House Resolution 574, the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Putnam) and the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Peterson) each will control 5 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Florida.
Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Chairman, we have a number of speakers on this so I want to be brief.
One of the common misperceptions about the farm bill that didn't used to be a misperception, it used to be a reality and was very frustrating to taxpayers, was that professional athletes and broadcasters and people like that could game the system to receive conservation payments. And to the chairman and Mr. Goodlatte's credit, this bill does make significant strides towards improving the commitment to conservation. However, there is a change in the bill that is disturbing which lowers the AGI limit for eligibility for conservation payments.
The effect of that is that it takes out what had been a requirement that 75 percent of your income be farm income, and in the process of doing that, it eliminates many of the most successful farmers who are doing their best to take advantage of government-matching dollars to improve their operations from an environmental perspective. It eliminates their ability to do so.
And setting aside the family farm narrative, if you are truly a family farm, where you have multiple generations operating, then for sheer survival you have to grow in order to feed grandpa and dad and two brothers and their families who are all in the dairy business or in the livestock business.
If this language were to remain in the bill as is, the Florida Department of Agriculture reports unofficially that roughly half of Florida producers would be ineligible for conservation payments. Many of the producers on the Chesapeake watershed, we've heard a lot today about the Chesapeake, the Everglades watershed, irrigation projects in the American West would be ineligible for these matching dollars because of this new AGI limitation.
And I would urge Members to review this carefully and adopt this amendment so that these conservation payments would find their way to the farmers that are doing the best job, that are the most successful and are full-time. These are not hobby farmers. These are full-time agricultural producers in America who are feeding this country.
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Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Chairman, I just want to reiterate, while this has a major impact on specialty crop and dairy and livestock States like California and Florida, it is a national issue because under current law, if 75 percent of your income is from farms, then you are eligible for this higher AGI. By taking that out, you are redirecting conservation dollars from people who are full-time farmers, full-time producers, presumably the people that the farm bill is intended to benefit, and directing it to hobby farmers, people who are enjoying their gentlemanly estates in the suburbs of Washington or New York or other metropolitan areas, where they enjoy the bucolic lifestyle, while the people who get up before dawn every morning and go to bed after dark every night, and live and die by the vagaries of the marketplace and pests and disease will be ineligible for the additional conservation help.
So you either drive them out of business because of the impact on watersheds, or you will pay for it out of a different program; but one way or the other you will either drive agriculture out of the Chesapeake, drive agriculture out of the Glades, drive agriculture out of the prairie potholes, out of the Dakotas, out of the flyways, or we can make this minor amendment to let the people who farm full time eligible for the green payments that recognize the social benefits that come from their activities.
I urge the adoption of this amendment, and I thank my friend from Florida for his assistance.
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