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South Dakota senator defends payment limits

Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) called for action on the farm bill Monday, as leaders of the Senate and its agriculture committee continued negotiations to limit amendments to the bill.

Johnson said that he hoped a small minority of senators would not hold up the bill. Some agricultural lobbyists are saying that action within the next few days is needed to assure that the Senate passes a bill this year.

Johnson also called on his colleagues to support a provision in the ag committee's bill that caps payments for the new Agriculture Risk Coverage program at $50,000 a year. It also requires that those receiving payments be actively engaged in farming.

Johnson and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have tried for years to tighten up payment limit loopholes. Johnson said Monday that amendments has been filed to weaken that reform.

"Our country faces serious fiscal challenges, and it seems to me that limiting farm payments to real farmers is a reasonable concept," Johnson said.

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