Congressional leaders propose $23 billion in cuts to agriculture

Four leaders of congressional agriculture committees sent a letter to congressional “super committee” members proposing $23 billion in agricultural cuts Monday.

The cuts would come in the Farm Bill, which expires next year. The committee members hope the voluntary reductions, which they propose to put together in detail by Nov. 1, will inoculate agriculture from further cuts from the congressional super committee.

The letter is signed by Agricultural Committee Senate Chair Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), House Chair Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), ranking member Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and ranking member Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan).

“We are currently finalizing the policies that would achieve $23 billion in deficit reduction and will provide a complete legislative package by November 1, 2011. Deficit savings at this level is more than any sequestration process would achieve and should absolve the programs in our jurisdiction from any further reductions.”

Mary Kay Thatcher, director of Public Policy for the American Farm Bureau Federation told American Agriculturalist that nutrition and crop insurance programs will probably be mostly safe.

“There aren’t really specifics as far as how much cuts are coming to commodities versus conservation versus nutrition,” Thatcher said. “Certainly the word on the street has been fairly significant that the committees are recommending elimination of direct payments and moving toward more of a revenue loss program but nothing in writing that spells out those kinds of details.”

Some House Republicans have proposed higher cuts of up to $50 billion, according to Earlier in the month, two congressional Republicans proposed to cut $40 billion from agriculture, including steep cuts to farm subsidies, conservation and nutrition.