House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas wonders what numbers farm subsidy opponents are using when they declare that an enormous amount of money could be saved by eliminating the safety net for ag producers:
“The cost of losing food production surely outweigh the cost of a safety net. Especially when you consider many Title I programs don’t kick in until prices fall below a set trigger. There aren’t enormous savings to be found from cutting farm programs. They constitute only one-half of 1% of the federal budget. That’s fifty-cents out of every $100. Now, these are difficult times, and the agriculture community is going to have to accept budget cuts, but we don’t believe that we should take a disproportionate hit.”
Ranking Member Collin Peterson is increasingly optimistic that farm programs won’t be gutted in a potential agreement to reduce the federal deficit. He notes that congressional leaders are no longer talking about cutting ag spending by 30-billion dollars or more:
“They’re talking 10-11 billion, the highest I’ve heard now is 15. It seems like the Republicans you know, over here, I think…seems like it’s….Harry Reid’s number, what that….30% reduction in the base acres, about 11 billion. That’s kind of what everybody’s talking about now. Well, if that’s the number we get, I think we can work with that in the Commodity Title.”
Meanwhile, Peterson says he’s making progress lining up dairy industry support for his proposal to protect milk margins instead of prices and plans to introduce it either later this week or early next. He says he hopes to attract a Republican co-sponsor.