The Obama administration proposes paying for a new child nutrition program by cutting federal farm subsidies to farms that make a half-million dollars or more a year in sales. Reports say that would hit about 9,500 Iowa farms and 81,000 farms nationwide.
Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat, says he agrees that those payments to high-income farms should be abolished. "I have long said that these direct payments really make no sense, because they go out no matter how much money you make, how good the year may be, we just keep paying people based upon what they grew back in the 1980s," Harkin says. "I never thought it made much sense and I never supported it."
While Harkin says he’d support cutting off subsidies to those farms, he says government is by no means backing away from the farming industry. Harkin says: "I want to make sure that we continue our basic support in agriculture, our counter-cyclical programs and our commodity loan programs for farmers. Those will still be secure and I want to see that we put more emphasis on conservation and conservation payments to farmers and I believe that’s in this budget, too."
The child nutrition program that would be financed by the cuts to farm subsidies is one small portion of Obama’s proposed $3.6 trillion budget. Harkin says: "Overall, I have not scrubbed his budget proposal. We just got it late yesterday and I haven’t had the chance to really go through everything, but I’ve gotta’ say, most of the that things that I see in his budget, I think, move us in the right direction."
The cut in farm subsidies is expected to save the federal government some $9.8 billion over a decade, close to the amount that is proposed to be spent on the anti-obesity program for schools.