U.S. Department of Agriculture spending would rise 2.3% under President Obama’s proposed 2011 budget. Most of that increase would go to people receiving assistance in buying food. Food stamp expenditures would rise 3.9%. Meanwhile, however, ag subsidies would fall 11 percent, according to Bloomberg, as “the administration tries to limit payments to wealthy farmers.”
This is a replay of the fight over the 2008 farm bill, when there was an attempt to limit direct payments to farmers who reached a certain level of gross income. The Obama plan would restrict direct payments to those with gross farm incomes of less than $500,000. Some farm groups responded in the negative. “I guess what the cut does, for one, it takes money out of rural America, just like that,” Keven Bradley, Montana Grain Growers Association president, told Tom Lutey of the Billings Gazette. “I cannot stand by as the president moves to cut direct payments to farmers and ranchers. We’re only two years into the 2008 Farm Bill, and Montana producers have made long-term plans based on what they thought was a solid agreement with the government for the life of that bill,” Montana Sen. Max Baucus said in a written statement.
Meanwhile, an editorial in the Washington Post said that “Agri-hypocrites” attack the Obama plan to cut subsidies. (Whom might these people be? The Post quotes Democrat Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia as two who oppose the cuts.) The country is in “deep trouble” financially, the Post. “And the fatuous hypocrisy of self-proclaimed deficit hawks who then go to bat for welfare to well-to-do landowners is endangering us all.”