Earlier this week, President Barack Obama proposed massive changes to federal farm subsidy programs. Faced with increasing federal budget deficits, budget hawks in Washington have recently targeted agricultural spending.
Earlier this summer, as a part of a deal to raise the U.S. debt ceiling, Obama, Speaker of the House John Boehner, and other Congressional leaders agreed to increase the debt ceiling in exchange for up to $2 trillion in deficit reduction by November. While the agricultural industry has been the target of several budget cuts since January, 2010, many leaders hope to wring further cuts from the beleaguered industry.
Obama has claimed that ending direct payment farm subsidies are a necessary step and that the payments themselves are unnecessary. He and his supporters claim that, given high crop prices, direct payments aren’t as vital as they once were. In addition, he pointed out that over half of the recipients of direct payments have annual incomes of more than $100,000. According to the White House, ending direct payments would save more than $30 billion over the next decade.
Opponents of Obama’s plan claim that direct payments are a vital part of the agricultural industry. House Agriculture Committee chairman Frank Lucas and Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, have both stated that the White House should make agriculture cuts by targeting conservation and nutrition programs, rather than direct payments.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer