Government

Sen. Chuck Grassley defends his own participation in ag bailout

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) speaks during U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) speaks during U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

DES MOINES — U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says because he remains an active partner on his farm, he is justified in seeking government funding being offered to farmers affected by trade disruption.

President Donald Trump’s administration is offering financial assistance to farmers experiencing losses following the administration’s efforts to renegotiate multiple international trade deals.

Grassley, Iowa’s longtime Republican U.S. senator, said he plans to apply for assistance for his 750-acre Butler County farm, which grows corn and soybeans.

Scott Faber, senior vice president for governmental affairs at the Environmental Working Group, argued in a Washington Post story that if U.S. senators are eligible for bailout funds then the program is flawed.

The program has an annual income cap of $900,000; U.S. senators make $174,000.

Grassley’s net worth in 2015 was $3.3 million according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

“Many taxpayers would be shocked to learn members of Congress who are receiving what by any measure is a lot of money are now also receiving a bailout check ostensibly designed to help struggling farmers,” Faber told the Post. “It underscores exactly what’s wrong with the bailout program — that many of the recipients of farm bailout funding are doing just fine.”

Grassley said he is a 50-50 partner with his son on the farm, and participates in farm programs for which he is legally eligible, including the Conservation Reserve Program and the annual farm program that helps producers collectively manage risks, recover from disasters and preserve natural resources.

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Grassley has pushed for limits on federal payments to agriculture producers in an effort to preserve funding for farmers. He said his farm would not surpass the limits he has proposed.

“Because I am what you call actively engaged in farming, I qualify under the law to receive (bailout) payments,” Grassley said Wednesday during his weekly conference call with Iowa reporters.

Grassley said he receives no special treatment under the bailout program, and his farm is susceptible to harm caused by the trade negotiations. He will not know how much assistance he will receive until after the harvest, because the assistance is calculated by crop output.

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