Farm Groups Fight Farm Bill Subsidy Limits

A coalition of agricultural advocacy groups are pushing to protect farm subsidies, fighting a proposed addition to the 2013 Farm Bill that would limit subsidies and farm aid, placing maximum caps on federal subsidy payments.
Since the 2008 financial collapse, farm spending has been a hot button political issue. With politicians looking to trim spending and reduce the federal deficit, farm subsidies (which many urban politicians argue are not necessary) have been a major target.
For the past several years, farm subsidies and farm spending have been losing federal funds. Agricultural research colleges, for example, have seen their budgets shrink, direct payment subsidies have been eliminated, and a host of other federal funds (ranging from conservation funding to energy programs) have lost money in recent budget agreements.
Deficit hawks, however, have been pushing for increased spending cuts. In the wake of a series of reports suggesting that billionaires, CEOs, and non-agricultural corporations have been receiving agricultural subsidies, politicians from both parties have argued for limiting the total amount of farm subsidies given to individual farmers, claiming that limiting these payments will reduce federal spending while also maximizing support to small farmers.
The new rules, which have bipartisan support in the House and Senate, would cap non-insurance farm subsidy payments at $125,000 for single farmers and $250,000 for married farmers.
Opponents of the reforms argue that the increasing size of American farms, even smaller family farms, requires support programs with payments large enough to protect farmers who need them.
While limiting subsidy payments may be popular, agricultural groups argue that waste and fraud in farm subsidy programs are relatively minor. Others argue that reducing subsidies could pose a serious threat to small farmers across the country. Limiting the amount of federal loans farmers are eligible for, for example, could lead to a drop in production, and could potentially force farmers out of business. Access to farm loans can often serve as the difference between a successful family farm and potential bankruptcy.
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