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Agriculture won't escape budget cutting, Stenholm tells Farm Bureau

Agriculture.com Staff 01/11/2010 @ 9:06am

Former Texas Congressman Charlie Stenholm, a Blue Dog Democrat who supports reducing the federal budget, told members of the American Farm Bureau Federation Monday that farm programs won't escape future cuts.

"We're evolving into an agriculture that soon will be no subsidized. Get ready for it," Stenholm said at the Farm Bureau's annual meeting in Seattle.

Stenholm praised House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) for announcing hearings on the 2012 farm bill, starting in March.

"He's very far-sighted," Stenholm said, adding that if the budget deficit is going to be resolved agriculture won’t escape the need to cut government spending.

Later, Stenholm told reporters that he expects discussion of ways to improve agricultural programs while trimming spending. There will be a lot of discussion of programs patterned on insurance that protect risk, he said, and direct payments are endangered.

Stenholm said that he hopes nutrition programs won't put even more pressure on farm programs because of an improving economy. But there may have to be more balance in farm programs, too, he suggested.

"How do you justify a subsidy for biofuels, for corn ethanol, and a direct payment," he asked.

Stenholm's support for balancing the federal budget has a sympathetic audience at Farm Bureau. The group formed a federal deficit task force committee that's advocating balancing the federal budget by 2019.

And, the group, in principal, supports "putting agriculture on the table" to do its fair share, said Farm Bureau chief economist Bob Young, who worked with the task force.

But it may be too soon to expect the farm organization to decide how to cut farm programs.

"Our voting delegates aren't very friendly toward considering any spending cuts," the task force chairman, Iowa Farm Bureau President, Craig Lang, told Agriculture.com.

Former Texas Congressman Charlie Stenholm, a Blue Dog Democrat who supports reducing the federal budget, told members of the American Farm Bureau Federation Monday that farm programs won't escape future cuts.

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