Federal budget choices could threaten farm programs, according to the executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs. Director Chuck Hassebroek says farmers are looking at a year of big commodity-price changes, international trade concerns and government issues. One of the big issues now is the budget, he says, with government at all levels facing financial problems so they’re making very important choices. Hassebroek says advocates for farming want to see a part of the proposed federal budget redrawn by leaders in Washington.The president’s budget, he says, proposes we cut some critical programs for rural development, like investments in small-business for rural development, cooperative development that offers family farmers and ranchers a future, and things like the Conservation Security Program that reward good environmental stewardship. Hassebroek says the biggest concern may be the continuing big subsidies to big corporate farms. He says huge payments go to the nation’s biggest farms. He says cuts should be in the form of a payment cap, limiting how much anyone can collect and making more money available for the federal farm program — to quit subsidizing what he calls “mega-farms.” Hassebroek says the ongoing drought in the Midwest is also a concern to farmers and ranchers, but there’s little we can do to change that.
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