Ag Budget Cuts: $11 or $48 Billion?


WASHINGTON (DTN) — House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson on Wednesday endorsed the Gang of Six senators’ budget proposal and said he has instructed his staff to begin researching a farm bill with the $11 billion in cuts that the proposal would involve.

“I think this is coming together,” Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat, told DTN. “I told my staff to start looking at this yesterday.”

One key farm lobbyist said farmers would be “dancing cartwheels” if the cuts in farm programs can be held to $11 billion over 10 years. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., proposed a $48 billion cut over 10 years in the fiscal year 2012 budget bill that the House passed. Senate Agriculture Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., has said that passage of the Ryan budget proposal has made it increasingly difficult to keep the discussion of ag cuts at the $10 billion proposed under the Simpson-Bowles presidential commission plan.

Stabenow has not commented on the proposed farm cuts since the Gang of Six plan was revived Tuesday. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., a member of the Gang of Six, said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Wednesday that the Gang of Six plan has attracted support from 40 senators, split half between Democrats and Republicans, and he believes it will attract more.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., did not return an e-mail request for comment.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama and congressional leaders are looking at a short-term deal to raise the debt ceiling before an Aug. 2 deadline, with plans for a bigger deal later, National Journal reported late Wednesday. Obama threw support to the Gang of Six proposal on Tuesday, but Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., noted that the proposal had not been written in legislative language or scored by the Congressional Budget Office. Other proposals including those by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Vice President Joe Biden are also part of the policy mix.

Congressional leaders have signaled that both the House and the Senate will be in session, including weekends, until some sort of deal to raise the debt limit is reached.

Under the Gang of Six proposal, Congress would impose some funding cuts immediately, but congressional committees including Agriculture would have six months to write legislation to achieve a mandated level of cuts. Farm programs would be cut by $11 billion over 10 years, but the supplemental nutrition assistance program, formerly known as food stamps, would be protected from cuts. A group of religious leaders including Bread for the World President David Beckmann met with Obama on Wednesday to urge him to protect social programs funding through discretionary accounts including the special nutrition program for women, infants and children known as WIC.


© Copyright 2011 DTN/The Progressive Farmer, A Telvent Brand. All rights reserved.

Posted with DTN Permission by Haylie Shipp



Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x