Debt Ceiling Negotiations Threaten Farm Subsidies

Current negotiations over raising the debt ceiling could threaten farm subsidies and agricultural funding, sources on Capitol Hill report. Raising the debt ceiling, the legal limit that the federal government can borrow, has been done dozens of time over the past decade as a matter of course. However, as politicians from both parties worry about the expanding federal deficit, many political leaders have insisted on deficit reduction plans as a part of the final debt ceiling agreement.

Currently, Obama and Republican lawmakers are eyeing $30 billion in agricultural spending cuts, including both direct payments to farmers, which have been controversial even before the debt debate, crop insurance programs, and conservation funding.

While direct payment cuts have been advocated by many throughout the agricultural industry, farm advocates are worried that slashing funding to crop insurance programs and conservation programs could devastate the agricultural industry, particularly if crop prices drop. The reduction in conservation programs could also threaten the long-term viability of American agriculture, and could damage the environmental health of American farmland.

 Lobbyists for the National Farmers Union accused lawmakers of recreating the 1980s farm crisis, which devastated farmers throughout the country and prompted the passage of many of the support programs that are currently threatened.  They accused lawmakers of failing to understand the importance of farm subsidies and worried that removal of support systems could threaten the American food supply and force the US to be more reliant on foreign agricultural products, such as those from China.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer