Ag Committees Suggest $23 Billion in Cuts

Earlier this week, the House and Senate agriculture committees, as part of a joint Congressional action to reduce the federal budget deficit by $2 trillion, agreed to suggest over $23 billion in agricultural cuts over the next ten years.

The massive spending cuts are part of the fallout from the summer’s debt ceiling negotiations. In order to expand the U.S. debt ceiling, House and Senate leaders agreed to cut nearly $2 trillion from the budget over the next decade. A Congressional “Super-committee” has until November to enact this sweeping deficit reduction, or spending cuts will be enacted automatically and across the board.

Already facing severe cuts from earlier in 2010, the agricultural industry is bracing for further federal budget reductions. The agreement reached in the House and Senate agricultural committees hopes to avoid painful across the board cuts by finding as much savings as possible.

To that end, the House and Senate plan on suggesting an end to the $5 billion a year direct subsidy payments. These payments have been controversial given the high price of crops and record incomes from farms across the country (incomes that do not always factor in increasingly expanding costs for basic farm maintenance).

In addition to ending direct payments, the House and Senate committees as suggesting cuts in nutritional programs and conservation programs. Food Stamps, a major part of the federal budget, could lose over $4 billion from its operational budget.

While agricultural leaders hope that these cuts will be the last that the industry faces for a while, the uncertainty regarding the upcoming Farm Bill and the general fiscal tenor in Washington indicates that end of austerity might not yet be in sight.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer