Friday, February 08, 2013

Direct payments, other farm subsidies could be targets in bill to head off broader budget cuts

Cuts in farm subsidies could be part of a stopgap deal to head off a set of huge budget cuts known as "the sequester" and scheduled for March 1, David Rogers reports for Politico. President Obama has asked Congress for a three-month delay.

"Senate Democrats said Thursday they want to go longer, but each added month means coming up with about $12 billion in new revenues or savings to achieve the same level of deficit reduction," Rogers reports. "Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) confirmed that the prime target for spending cuts is an outdated system of direct cash payments to producers that still costs taxpayers close to $5 billion a year and has long been a target for reformers."

Stabenow told Rogers, “I would prefer obviously to do it in the context of the Farm Bill, but I cannot defend direct payments.” She said if those other cuts were made in a sequester-stalling bill, that would count as "agriculture's contribution to deficit reduction" as it drafts a new Farm Bill.

"Given high farm incomes," Rogers writes, "the large subsidies become harder and harder to defend. And both the House and Senate farm bills last year proposed to do away with the payments and plow a portion of the savings back into more modern safety-net programs and expanded crop insurance." (Read more)

No comments: