House Panel Votes to Cut Farm Subsidies

The House Appropriations Committee voted recently to cut farm subsidies to pay for deficit reduction and other budget priorities, chipping away at the billions of dollars a year that are directed to farmers.  The committee approved an amendment to lower the maximum adjusted gross income a farmer can have to earn certain subsidies.  While many farmers can now make as much as $750,000 annually and still receive subsidies, the amendment would lower the threshold for some to $250,000.  The committee also approved an amendment to use domestic farm subsidies to pay for $147 million in annual payments to Brazil’s cotton sector to settle a World Trade Organization dispute.  The committee later eliminated those payments to Brazil entirely, shifting the money to domestic feeding programs.  Both of these amendments would dip into direct payments to farmers, which are a type of subsidy paid regardless of crop price or yield.  They cost the government about $5 billion a year and have been a frequent target of critics. (Associated Press, June 1, 2011