Growers of corn, cotton and other major crops are going to have to learn to live without special subsidies under a new farm bill, said Robert Stallman, the head of the largest U.S. farmer group.
With Congress in a budget-cutting mood and farm profits near records highs, producers will have to make the most of general programs meant to serve all commodities, such as crop insurance, rather than look for extra incentives, Stallman, the president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, told reporters today in a briefing at the organization’s Washington headquarters.
“Individual commodity organizations don’t understand that they aren’t going to get their wishes fulfilled,” Stallman said. “We think we need to have an overarching program that covers all commodities,” said Stallman, who added that the elections in November will make passage of a farm bill this year difficult.
Net farm income that reached a record $98.1 billion in 2011 and may be $91.7 billion this year, the second-biggest ever, has made agriculture subsidies a top target for lawmakers and government officials seeking to reduce federal spending. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Republican, has recommended reductions of as much as $48 billion over 10 years, while President Barack Obama has asked for $32 billion in cuts.
Stallman is scheduled to testify tomorrow in a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on crop insurance and subsidies. The Senate panel and its House counterpart are working on legislation to replace the farm bill that expires Sept. 30. The measure would authorize spending for all U.S. Department of Agriculture programs, including nutrition initiatives such as food stamps, crop payments and insurance plans, for a period of about five years.
The USDA forecasts that farm subsidies, which protect farmers while encouraging production, helping agribusiness companies such as Archer Daniels Midland Co. and Cargill Inc., may reach $11 billion this year.
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