Congress takes aim at farm subsidies

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Kansas farmers join farmers and agriculture groups across the country as they watch anxiously to see how much ag-related funding will be cut by Congress to meet the debt ceiling deal. Washington politicians are expected to take a sharp knife to federal farm subsidies, which totaled more than $15 billion nationally and $1 billion in Kansas in 2010.

According to Rick Plumlee of The Wichita Eagle, the looming cuts have these ag professionals grimacing and farm subsidy opponents grinning.

The direct-payment program has been painted with a bull’s-eye as politicians take aim. Many farmers are resigned to losing at least some of the direct-payment program. However, they are also dead-set on retaining another possible target – the federal 59 percent subsidy for crop insurance.

Ag economists forecast that cuts to direct payments would drop the average Kansas farmer’s annual income by $8,000 to $110,000.

"If you accept the fact there's going to be some cuts — and most people probably do — you couldn't have a better time for it," said Kevin Dhuyvetter, an ag economy professor at Kansas State University told The Wichita Eagle. "We've gone through four pretty doggone good years in a row."

The USDA reported an increase in the national net farm income – up nearly 20% to an expected $94.7 billion in 2011. Corn hit a record high of nearly $8 per bushel in June while both wheat and soybeans approached record highs set in 2008.

While this year's severe drought will take a bite out of farm incomes in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, the farm bill is all about the big picture and what's happening across the country.

"It all boils down to it's been a pretty good time to be a crop producer," Dhuyvetter said. "The last thing you would want is to have to take cuts when we just had three years of losing money."

That doesn't make the pill easier to swallow for the Kansas farmer who has just watched his corn and soybean crops burn up, but Congress is intent on spending reductions.

Read more from The Wichita Eagle



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Maxine Jones    
Midland, SD  |  August, 22, 2011 at 06:17 PM

Where can one get information on exactly what the farm bill budget is spent for? It might help if it was more widely understood, since not many farm/ranch people even are very knowledgeable about it. Then, there is the fact that huge amounts are spent on what more accurately are consumer interests, such as food stamps, WIC and other food assistance programs; 'rural' development; forestry; and who knows what else. That, and the fact too many voters believe all large farms are those evil "corporations" or "factory farms" they love to hate spawn too much fuss against needed ag programs. Then, we really do need to clean up our own act and give up the unnecessary 'help' in many cases. And I can't really cite specifics on that, just instincts, since we are cow/calf/stocker operators, not grain farmers.

Johann    
Texas  |  August, 23, 2011 at 10:10 AM

What's the old saying: "Cut those programs but don't cut mine". It's time to reduce some of this spending and everyone needs to turn loose of that "sacred cow"! ALL programs must be reduced or eliminated!

John    
Mississippi  |  August, 23, 2011 at 11:23 AM

Johann One of the old sayings comes from Senator Russell Long (Louisiana) "Don't tax you.. Don't tax me... Tax the man behind the tree" and you are correct

Cowpuncher    
Minnesota  |  August, 23, 2011 at 02:13 PM

I, being a cow/calf operator, but raising some crops for market as well as feed--DO NOT benefit so much for crop subsidies, BUT do benefit from crop insurance!!!! The subsidy for insurance is money WELL spent, especially when there are major problems such as hail; wind damage; freezing; drought; etc. Without the subsidy, there would be NO possible way in which I could pay for full insurance coverage--especially with NORMAL 5/10 year average crop prices. Don't you think that many of the farmer/ranchers--especially cattle/livestock people in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, etc. would be OUT OF BUSINESS with this present DROUGHT???? Think about the devastation this would cause the families and communities in which they reside!!! Pastures for one, are NOT really insurable for many companies---and these are usually the life blood of the cow/calf producers who could NOT AFFORD to raise calves on purchased or raised feed in a feedlot environment. Remember that AGRICULTURE IS THE FOUNDATION OF BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY!!! AND ALL PEOPLE NEED TO EAT!!

Cowpuncher    
Minnesota  |  August, 23, 2011 at 02:15 PM

I, being a cow/calf operator, but raising some crops for market as well as feed--DO NOT benefit so much for crop subsidies, BUT do benefit from crop insurance!!!! The subsidy for insurance is money WELL spent, especially when there are major problems such as hail; wind damage; freezing; drought; etc. Without the subsidy, there would be NO possible way in which I could pay for full insurance coverage--especially with NORMAL 5/10 year average crop prices. Don't you think that many of the farmer/ranchers--especially cattle/livestock people in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, etc. would be OUT OF BUSINESS with this present DROUGHT???? Think about the devastation this would cause the families and communities in which they reside!!! Pastures for one, are NOT really insurable for many companies---and these are usually the life blood of the cow/calf producers who could NOT AFFORD to raise calves on purchased or raised feed in a feedlot environment. Remember that AGRICULTURE IS THE FOUNDATION OF BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY!!! AND ALL PEOPLE NEED TO EAT!!

Dana    
Sacramento  |  August, 23, 2011 at 03:48 PM

Farm subsidy programs for pork, chicken and corn must go! These programs create a false market. People do not want to pay fair prices for what their food costs. Farmers deserve a fair wage. And I think it would be great to do away with these programs and allow the market to self correct. Also, along with cutting spending programs, to get our country back on track, people need to pay their fair share of taxes. But I guess that's a different discussion.

Leslie Johnston    
Glyndon, Maryland  |  August, 23, 2011 at 07:14 PM

A good rule of thumb is that if you tax something you get less of it; if you subsidize something you get more of it. Subsidizing meat/dairy production has led to obesity and unhealthy lives. Why don't we subsidize vegetables and fruit?

Teresa    
sw wisconsin  |  August, 24, 2011 at 04:29 AM

Get the government out of ag cut all programs start with the crp, end the insurance that big grain buys that guarantes a yield and a price the money is only helping raise the rent grain producers pay unless they own the land aren't making huge profits it's getting eatin aways with input cost most of the grain producers sold last years cropslong before the prices jumped its speculators making the huge money. end the ethanol subsidises cut entitlements to the immigrants thru wic and foodstamps energy assistance rent assistance free health care either pay them enough so the taxpayers aren't picking up the tab or get them out of the country.

James Adams    
Texas  |  August, 24, 2011 at 10:09 AM

The government spends $10 billion per day. That should put farm subsidies in perspective. China invalidates notions of laissez faire by giving away land, buildings and tax rebates to manufacturers to move there. Their farmers buy get fuel from price controlled supplier. The US MUST invest in heavy manufacturing if it expects to remain a world power. Subsidies are a cheap way to do that. Heavy industry is not an optional characteristic of a world power. History repeatedly proves that countries that do not have heavy machine manufacturing capacities do not win wars. Our enviromental laws are keeping us from performing the most basic of wealth/job creation by criminalizing use of our native resources in minerals, animals and plants. We must change course to avoid catastrophe. Is it too late already?

richard    
baton rouge, louisiana  |  August, 24, 2011 at 01:11 PM

For the few farmers who might be hurt to an extreme, the government might allow a temporary interest bearing loan or some realistic emergency help to get through the next few years.

Lennie Collins    
Missouri  |  August, 28, 2011 at 03:27 PM

I'm a small beef farmer and get little to none of the Gov funds. The country is broke and can't afford to hand out money they don't have. No one wants to have there own program cut. Without the programs the market will evenout and be better for the ones that can make it. No more funds for pork, chicken and Corn.


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