DIRECT PAYMENTS ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK
With the sequestration deadline looming on March 1, members of Congress are searching for cuts that make sense to get them to their spending reduction goal. How will agriculture be affected?
According to a recent article in Politico, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) confirmed that the prime target for spending cuts is an outdated system of direct cash payments to producers that still costs taxpayers close to $5 billion a year and has long been a target for reformers.
“I would prefer obviously to do it in the context of the farm bill but I cannot defend direct payments,” she told POLITICO.
She said a final decision had not been made yet on the level of cuts, but she has been promised that her committee will be credited with the savings when she begins her new farm bill markup in late March or April — after the sequester dust settles. “Whatever is done has to be agriculture’s contribution to deficit reduction,” Stabenow said.
Delegates to the National Corn Growers Association voted to support eliminating direct payments in the spring of 2011, but hoped to see some of that savings directed to an improved crop insurance program. This was the plan we lobbied for last year when we asked for a “Farm Bill Now.”
Illinois Corn Growers Association will continue their push for a Farm Bill in 2013 with amped up crop insurance options in 2013.