California, Arizona Congressional Delegation Letters to Conferees Regarding the Grassley-Dorgan Amendment

Two letters sent by Cotton Belt House members to Chairman Combest and Ranking Member Stenholm.

Published: March 8, 2002
Updated: March 8, 2002

Letter from Arizona Delegation

March 7, 2002

The Honorable Larry Combest
Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture
1300 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Charlie Stenholm
Ranking Member, House Committee on Agriculture
1300 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515


We are writing to urge you to prevent the provisions of the so-called Grassley-Dorgan amendment from being included in the final farm bill conference report. Our constituents advise us that the provisions of the amendment would effectively deny critically needed financial assistance to commercial-sized farming operations in Arizona when prices are low. While each of the members of the delegation may have somewhat different options about what constitutes effective farm policy, we all agree it would be undesirable and unfair for any new farm legislation to include a provision that makes most Arizona farmers ineligible for financial assistance, while farmers in other regions of the country receive the assistance.

Arizona’s farming operations are large, by some people’s standards, because they must achieve economies of scale. Our costs of production per acre are significantly higher than many parts of the country because of our cropping patterns, land values and input costs. Arizona’s farmers can compete because they have adopted new technologies and management techniques that increase the productivity of each acre. It would be highly discriminatory for our producers to be penalized because Congress decided to create a one-size-fits all limitation on eligibility for benefits based on an arbitrarily selected acreage size or faulty perception of what constitutes a "family" farm.

We believe the provisions of the amendment, if enacted, would not only result in most Arizona row crop farmers being denied benefits, but would also inhibit sound cropping and marketing decisions, encourage excess production of specialty crops and alfalfa, disrupt longstanding tenant-landlord agreements, and require that USDA implement far-reaching and costly regulations.

We appreciate the efforts you and your colleagues make to craft more effective, predictable long-term farm policy, which was overwhelmingly adopted on a bipartisan basis. We note the issues raised in the Grassley-Dorgan amendment were discussed and rejected during the House debate.

We urge you and your colleagues to insist that the final conference report retain the House provisions on payment eligibility and limitations.

Thank you for your consideration of our views.


Bob Stump
Member of Congress

Ed Pastor
Member of Congress

John Shadegg
Member of Congress

Jim Kolbe
Member of Congress

J. D. Hayworth
Member of Congress