GOP & Dems Agree: Whack Agricultural Subsidies

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 4/14/2011 12:01:00 AM
I will soon have more on the shameful budgetary shenanigans being waged Stateside, but something international trade followers can probably cheer is this: both parties' much-ballyhooed fiscal plans involve major rollbacks to American agricultural subsidies. As you would expect, states with large agricultural interests are looking warily on. Indeed, the Republicans are split given that the plan forwarded by Paul Ryan (R-Wisc) is calling for bigger cuts than those just outlined by the so far impotent Fiscal Commission. From the Fergus Falls Journal [!]:
The Republican head of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., may find opposition from his own party regarding the cutback of agriculture subsidies by $30 billion over the next 10 years. He’s also meeting opposition from fellow House members such as Seventh District U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, a DFLer [Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party] from Detroit Lakes.

Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said, “Members of the House Agriculture Committee and I will write the next farm bill.”

Peterson said Monday that President Barack Obama’s deficit commission called for $10 billion in savings from farm programs over 10 years. “That’s something people can live with,” said Peterson. “However, there’s no justification for a $30 billion cut. Overall, we’re talking about a 25 percent cut for ag, and we’re not seeing 25 percent cuts to other parts of the budget bill.”

Ryan has proposed cutting $30 billion over 10 years by spending less on a crop subsidy program called direct payments and giving smaller subsidies to crop insurance. Direct payments were already expected to be a major target in the 2012 farm bill. That farm bill will cover the years from 2013 to 2018.
Reining in agricultural interests will be a challenge insofar as the House Agricultural Committee obviously authors the Farm Bill. Whatever budget is ultimately passed, keeping the lawmakers who decide on subsidies in line is obviously required.