Crop subsidies would be cut by one-point-one billion dollars next year under President Bush’s proposed budget, released to Congress on Monday. That’s a six-percent reduction in farm payments from the current year. The president also wants to cap individual farm payments at a quarter-million dollars, an element Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he’d support it.
Grassley, a Republican, says “The president has, once again, seen the positive impact of limiting farm payments so that ten-percent of the biggest farmers don’t end up with 72-percent of the benefits from the farm program. That is the same quarter-million dollar cap the president proposed in his budget a year ago,” but Grassley says it was killed because it was decided the measure should be in upcoming farm bill, not in a so-called reconciliation bill.
As for the proposed subsidy cuts, Grassley says virtually everything but defense is being cut in this year’s suggested budget. Grassley says “nothing, including agriculture, can be out of bounds. Now, I don’t like to say that agriculture oughta’ give anything, but the president’s proposing cuts in the safety net for farmers. We looked at that a year ago and the Senate adopted it but in the final analysis, we decided to save two-and-seven-tenths-billion out of agriculture, but none of it out of the farm safety net.”
A statement from Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat, says “The Bush budget calls for deep cuts to farm bill initiatives the President has touted and fails to follow through on his State of the Union call to invest in renewable fuels. The Budget would drain federal spending from rural America by scaling back investment in farm income by five-percent with additional cuts in conservation, renewable energy, broadband loans and agricultural research. This comes at the same time that farm income declined by 16-percent adjusted for inflation last year and farmers are confronting continued skyrocketing fuel and fertilizer costs.”