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President Obama’s budget would phase out fixed annual payments to farmers who have more than half a million in annual sales, according to Philip Brasher in the Des Moines Register. “That threshold would catch commercial-scale farms across Iowa and other states, economists say,” Brasher writes. “An estimated 81,000 farmers nationwide would lose their payments.” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack explains the cuts: “If you had a dollar – one dollar – where would you put it? Would you give it to a child for more nutritious eating? Would you give it in a direct payment to a high-income (farm) operation?”
FarmPolicy.com has an excellent rundown on the different reports on the ag budget. (The blog has an important reminder: subsidies aren’t given according to total income derived by a farm operation. Subsidies are based on acres.) Cuts include eliminating cotton storage credits, funding for the Resource Conservation and Development program and reducing funding for brand promotion overseas. The Obama plan says that large farmers are in the position to replace payments with other subsidies for activities such as carbon sequestration and renewable energy production.
The Washington Times reports that “top” Rs and Ds are “already shooting down President Obama’s plan to cut farm subsidies….” But the cuts are part of Obama’s overall plans to raise money for a new health care plan. “The war has started,” said Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. No kidding.