US Farmer Subsidies May Disappear

By Park Sae-jin Posted : June 16, 2011, 13:21 Updated : June 16, 2011, 13:21
According to the Washington Post, Whitehouse lawmakers want to suspend the round of subsidies given to farmers. A freshman Republican congressional representative, Huelskamp, drove through the endless fields of far-flung western Kansas to deliver a difficult message.

“Everybody needs to share, if you’re a farmer like me, you’re going to expect less. Something is going to go away. The direct payments are going to go away.”

Dramatically cutting or eliminating direct crop subsidies, which totaled about $5 billion last year, has emerged as one of the few areas of agreement in the budget talks underway between the White House and congressional leaders of both parties.

In their recent budget proposals, House Republicans and House Democrats targeted farm subsidies, a program long protected by members of both parties.

The GOP plan includes a $30 billion cut to direct payments over 10 years, which would slash them by more than half. Those terms are being considered in the debt-reduction talks led by Vice President Biden, according to people familiar with the discussions.

President Obama has also taken aim at farm subsidies, with a plan to scale back payments to farmers with incomes of more than $250,000 a year. These talks come as Congress separately begins constructing a new farm bill, which is passed about every five years and sets the terms of the government’s agricultural programs.

Although farm subsidies are often decried as a form of corporate welfare, Washington’s powerful agribusiness lobbyists have long argued that they help keep rural outposts such as Hill City afloat.

Moreover, analysts say that with the disappearing subsidies, food prices in China may increase exponentially hurting the consumer price index in Asia.

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