While it may have been unthinkable only a decade ago, convention political wisdom currently places spending cuts over farm subsidies and agricultural support. This sea change represents the increased anxiety over federal spending currently gripping many Americans, as well as the waning power of the agricultural lobby.
Over the last two years, the agricultural sector has come increasingly under attack by politicians looking to reduce federal spending. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has seen its budgets repeatedly slashed, and farmers have been threatened with the elimination of direct farm payments. The budget proposed by the White House and last November’s supercommittee recommendations further commit the federal government to agricultural spending reductions, proposing over $30 billion in spending cuts over the next decade.
While these proposals would have been political suicide ten years ago, polling suggests that many voters find themselves less concerned with farm spending and more concerned with federal spending. A major cause of this attitude is booming crop prices. According to the President of the National Farmers Union, “What’s different this time is we have very strong commodity prices, and that is generally not a really good time to write a farm bill because everyone who is projecting the future says, `Oh, this is going to last forever.'”
The willingness to accept farm-spending reductions also represents a gradual, but ongoing, decrease in the power of the agricultural lobby. With fewer and fewer farmers entering the agricultural profession and the bulk of agricultural production being increasing concentrated in the hands of large-scale agribusinesses, farmers are finding fewer and fewer advocates in positions of political power.
Follow us on: Twitter
Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer