FOOD, CONSERVATION, AND ENERGY ACT OF 2008 -- (Senate - September 29, 2008)
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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I rise today in support of H.R. 6849. This important piece of legislation would revise the 2008 farm bill and help thousands of Kentucky farmers.
As many of you may know, the farm bill prohibits producers from receiving certain commodity payments on farms of 10 base acres or less. Unfortunately, Kentucky has the greatest number of farms that will be impacted by this provision. According to the USDA Farm Service Agency and the University of Kentucky, one-fourth of Kentucky's farms are 10 acres or less, which indicates that approximately 20,000 of the Commonwealth's 80,000 farms could be affected by this provision. While I supported the farm bill, I opposed the inclusion of this program in the final legislation.
Last month, I wrote USDA Secretary Ed Schafer to express my concerns regarding USDA's implementation of this provision. I was concerned that USDA had interpreted the law in a way that disqualifies farmers with more than 10 base acres because that land is not located on a single, contiguous tract. As clearly outlined in the Joint Explanatory Statement of the Managers that accompanied this legislation, Congress intended that USDA allow for aggregation of farms for the purposes of determining the suspension of payments on farms with 10 base acres or less.
H.R. 6849 would remedy this issue by suspending this program for the 2008 crop year. I strongly support this provision since it could lessen the impact on my farmers and will perhaps provide encouragement to USDA to implement this provision in the manner that Congress intended.