President Bush’s proposed budget would cut agricultural subsidies by more than a half-billion dollars, but Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says that’s not all bad. Grassley chairs the Senate Finance Committee and says the way it is now, far too few farmers get far too much of the federal money. He says some farm programs need to be capped and he’s tried unsuccessfully to do so for three years. Grassley says “I’m glad the President’s proposing that. It’s something I think not only saves money…but it also makes the farm program more fair for young farmers.” Grassley says “When ten-percent of the farmers get 72-percent of the benefits of the farm program, what it does is, it drives up the price of farmland or cash rent so young farmers can’t get started farming.” The average age of American farmers is 58 years old and without new farmers, Grassley says, we’re in trouble. Some farm groups are protesting the 580-some-million dollars in cuts to the farm subsidy programs which Bush is proposing, but Grassley says the package needs further study. Grassley, a republican, also sits on the Senate Budget Committee which will hold a hearing tomorrow (Wednesday) on the President’s fiscal 2006 budget proposal. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, a democrat, says President Bush’s call for huge budget reductions in Department of Agriculture initiatives “is out of touch with the reality in rural America and reflects the misplaced priorities found throughout the president’s budget plan.” Harkin says the budget “throws into jeopardy the progress made in the recent farm and child nutrition bills and threatens critical farm, rural development, conservation, crop insurance, nutrition and other assistance.” Harkin adds: “The federal budget cannot be balanced on the backs of farm families and rural communities, and the president should not try to.”