The Farm Bill was passed through the Senate last week and Senator Chuck Grassley says he is pleased that some measures he proposed are alive in the bill - but more need to be restored to the bill through negotiations.
"It is good to see a livestock competition amendment pass, banning mandatory arbitration in livestock and banning packer ownership of livestock," Grassley said in an interview this week. "But I am disappointed that a hard cap on payment limitations was not passed, but hopefully it will still make it in."
Grassley explained that he envisioned a farm bill that would create a level playing field for farmers and livestock producers.
"The ban on mandatory arbitration will allow farmers to go to courts if they don't get the decision they want," Grassley said. "Farmers didn't have all the information that the meatpackers did - and not allowing them to go to court took away the farmer's ability to get all the same information.
Without a hard cap on farm program payments, there is a loophole big enough to drive a tractor through, he said.
"I'm sure that someone will unless we can close it."
Grassley stated that he had sent a letter to both Agriculture committees in the House and Senate, Senator Tom Harkin and Representative Collin Peterson, stating the need for the cap.
"Hopefully they will see the importance of the need and try to get into the negotiation," Grassley said.
The senator added that banning packer ownership allows for a more open market in livestock.
"The market dictated the need to ban the ownership in livestock, if there is a need for this in the grain market then it will be something to be considered later," Grassley said.
When asked if President George Bush would veto the bill, Grassley doubted it.
"I think it would be stupid on the president's part to say he will veto a bill while it's still in negotiations," Grassley said. "He has a unique opportunity here to voice some things he would like to see. But whether he will veto it, I don't know."
Grassley also talked about the importance of alternative energy, with current programs for biodiesel and wind energy coming to end.
"We need to get the extenders on these programs - ethanol still has a few more years, but we need to keep biodiesel and wind going," Grassley said. "There are a lot of ways that people can look at the extenders and we need to get them into the farm bill."
Grassley added that Research and Development Tax Credits were still needed to help with the continual growth of the technology.
Grassley had a meeting scheduled with Trade Ambassador Susan C. Schwab where he hoped to discuss many issues including trade agreements with Korea.
"I am interested in hearing an update of the negations," Grassley said. "It's mainly about automobiles and beef but I think it's an important trade agreement."
Asked about an investigation requested by Canada and Brazil through the World Trade Origination about problems with far subsidies, Grassley said he isn't focusing on the situation.
"I'm not concern about the investigation," Grassley said. "We need to be focusing on a success with the Do Ha Talks. Brazil should be stepping up as a leader of the G20, a group of 20 countries that are developed but not like Europe, Japan or the U.S., and lead efforts for the organization."