The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

May 15, 2013

Farmers, food stamps face cuts

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers who last year failed to complete a rewrite of U.S. agricultural policy will restart their effort this week with pressure building for even bigger cuts for farmers and food-stamp recipients.

Federal budget-cutting and criticism that aid has been too lavish during a time of record revenue are driving proposals in the Senate and House agriculture committees to end direct payments to farmers and save $23 billion and $40 billion, respectively, over the next 10 years.

This could set up a struggle to pass a bill that will satisfy farmers, environmentalists and nutrition advocates, said Mark McMinimy, an analyst at Guggenheim Washington Research Group in Washington.

“It’s going to become a lot of nibbling among programs, trying to keep the core programs intact,” he said in an interview.

Both panels are scheduled this week to draft their versions of a new five-year law reauthorizing a half-trillion dollars in U.S. Department of Agriculture programs.

Crop subsidies benefiting buyers such as Archer-Daniels- Midland and food stamps subsidizing purchases at Supervalu are prime targets for lawmakers seeking to trim the deficit.

Last year, a bill passed the Senate that would have resulted in the first major reductions in farm aid since 1996.

The measure fizzled in the House, where leaders wanted deeper cuts to food stamps, the biggest USDA expense. The current law, passed in 2008, was extended in January until Sept. 30, after concerns were raised that a lapse in farm programs would double the price of milk.

Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said the bill being crafted in her committee creates risk-management tools to protect farmers against market gyrations or weather disasters without subsidies that pay out even in good times.

In March, the Congressional Budget Office said the plans approved by the full Senate and the House Agriculture Committee last year would save less money than originally estimated, which has lawmakers pursuing more savings.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • Ellison urges Minn. to aid Central American minors ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota congressman is leading efforts to bring more unaccompanied children fleeing Central America to the state. But, immigration advocates and nonprofit groups that serve refugees are concerned Minnesota might not be abl

    July 22, 2014

  • Detroit retirees back pension cuts by a landslide DETROIT (AP) — A year after filing for bankruptcy, Detroit is building momentum to get out, especially after workers and retirees voted in favor of major pension changes just a few weeks before a judge holds a crucial trial that could end the largest

    July 22, 2014

  • Closings set in Ventura's suit over sniper's book ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Closing arguments are set in former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura's defamation lawsuit against the estate of "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle. The case is expected to go to the federal jury in St. Paul after lawyers for both

    July 22, 2014

  • American Jews, other 'lone soldiers' serve Israel The two Americans killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip followed in the footsteps of scores of Jews from around the world who have volunteered to fight for Israel. Israel calls them the lone soldiers: They are men and women in the prime of their live

    July 22, 2014

  • 9 TC Rainbow stores to close Supermarkets to lose in Cottage Grove, Shoreview, Inver Grove Heights, Apple Valley, Blaine, Bloomington, Coon Rapids, Maple Grove and Savage

    July 21, 2014

  • Accelerants fuel fire; 2 rescued ST. PAUL — Two brothers were rescued from the upper floor of a St. Paul duplex in a fire that was fueled by cylinders of gas, oxygen and other accelerants. Authorities say the two were taken to Regions Hospital where one man is in critical condition

    July 21, 2014

  • Monticello doctor dies in cycle crash Patients among those mourning Dr. Eric Lefebvre's death

    July 21, 2014

  • Precautions urged for excessive heat, humidity MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Health officials are urging Minnesotans to take precautions in dealing with high temperatures and humidity. The National Weather Service says the humidity will make temperatures feel like 100 to 110 degrees Monday across much of M

    July 21, 2014

  • NASA names building for moonwalker Neil Armstrong NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It now bears the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon when the Apollo 11 mission landed there 45 years

    July 21, 2014

  • Minnesota man loses relatives in airliner crash Drew Ryder of Willmar says victims included his brother, sister-in-law

    July 21, 2014