Senate Considers Spending Cuts

Earlier this week, Indiana Senator Dick Lugar and Indiana Representative Marlin Stutzman introduced legislation that would reduce the federal budget by over $40 billion over the next ten years by cutting farm and agricultural spending.

Earlier this summer, as part of a negotiation to increase the federal debt ceiling, Congress pledged to cut the federal deficit by nearly $2 trillion. If these cuts are not made by November, the debt ceiling legislation requires automatic, across the board spending cuts.

In order to avoid these across the board cuts, Congress has been debating smaller and more targeted budget decreases in order to reach that $2 trillion mark.

Lugar and Stutzman’s farm spending bill, named the Rural Economic Farm and Ranch Sustainability and Hunger (or REFRESH) Act, is an effort to achieve these austerity goals. The bill would end direct payments to farmers, end sugar protections, and reduce dairy price supports, which the authors say will account for up to $16 billion in deficit reduction.

In addition, the bill would cut spending on farm programs by about 25 percent, would cut conservation programs by up to 18 percent, and would cut nutrition programs by about 3 percent.

These spending cuts, Lugar and Stutzman say, would be offset through revenue insurance underwritten by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The bill’s authors hope that the REFRESH Act will be seriously considered by the House and Senate as away to reduce the deficit.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer