The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

Conrad, Baucus argue against farm program cuts

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., wrote President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., today to urge them to avoid making cuts in the farm program as part of the negotiations over the 2011 budget, and to leave those decisions to the agriculture committees.

“The baseline for agriculture was reduced by $6 billion ($4 billion of which went to deficit reduction) just last year as a result of the renegotiation of the standard reinsurance agreement,” Conrad and Baucus wrote. “However, it does not make sense to single out the agricultural budget for cuts that will do little to reduce spending in the short run while greatly complicating reauthorization of the farm bill later this Congress.”

Instead of making “arbitrary cuts” through and the appropriations bill, the agriculture committees should be the given the responsibility for crafting necessary reductions when writing the 2012 farm bill, they said.

“I’ve been traveling around Montana over the last few weeks talking with our ranchers and farmers about priorities in the upcoming farm bill and I can tell you they are prepared to chip in their fair share to tackle the debt,” Baucus added in an email. “But we cannot afford to make frivolous cuts to ranchers and farmers in the heart of America just to hit an arbitrary number made up in Washington.”