Earlier this week, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley addressed the debt ceiling deal, reached earlier this month, and discussed its impact on American agriculture. The debt deal stems from the federal budget deficit and limitations on the government’s ability to borrow money. Essentially, when the debt ceiling is reached, Congress must authorized increased borrowing in order to cover government spending.
The difficulty experienced earlier this summer was the result of effort by politicians, primarily led by House Republicans, to lower spending and reduce the deficit. The final agreement between Congressional leaders and President Obama raised the debt ceiling, preventing a default by the U.S. government, and, in exchange, created a Congressional “super committee, made up of Senators and Representatives from both parties. That super committee was empowered to find nearly $2 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years, with a deadline of mid October.
Grassley, a member of the super committee, has expressed hope that Congress seriously considers cutting spending. His recommendations, however, have raised eyebrows across the country, especially in his home state of Iowa.
While Grassley has expressed hope that the super committee will listen to Congressional agricultural committees, one of Grassley’s solutions to lowering federal spending is by reducing farm subsidies (something opposed by many in Congressional agricultural circles). His suggested reforms would limit total money that individuals could receive from the federal government in direct farm subsidies. While Grassley has championed this issue in the past, he hopes that the $2 trillion in mandated budget cuts will give his proposal more weight than it has received in the past.
Farm groups are divided on Grassley’s proposal. Many groups oppose removing or limiting farm subsidies, which they argue helps support farmers in tough times. Members of both the House and Senate agricultural committees have similarly opposed reduction in farm subsidies. However, some farmers have expressed a willingness to see direct payments replaced by more specifically directed farm aid programs.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer