Both committees have said they’ll eliminate a program that pays growers of corn, rice and other major crops regardless of market prices, while using some of the savings to insure farmer revenues in less-profitable years.
Food stamps will also see cuts.
“We all knew that if we didn’t pass a farm bill last year, this was going to happen,” said Mary Kay Thatcher, chief lobbyist for the American Farm Bureau Federation, the biggest U.S. farmer organization, in a telephone interview. Subsidies will need to be balanced “so that no one commodity gets too rich compared to another one,” she said.
To do that, lawmakers on both committees have added payment programs for southern cotton, rice and peanut farmers to compensate for remaining subsidies seen as being more generous to northern-grown crops like corn and soybeans.
Expanding crop insurance is the main goal of nearly every grower group, she said.
That priority is misplaced, said Ken Cook, president of Environmental Working Group, a conservation advocate based in Washington.