The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

End direct payments, reduce deficit, Center for American Progress says

The $4.9 billion direct payments program to farmers should be eliminated, with all but $650 million per year going to deficit reduction, a key Washington liberal think tank says in a report to be released today.

The Center for American Progress report, called “Bad Seeds,” says commodity prices are so high farmers can afford to lose the direct payments.

The report says that $600 million should be spent on energy development, with $300 million of that going to the Rural Energy for America program and $300 million for advanced biofuels development through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program. It calls for $40 million to go toward rural home repairs, and $10 million for export promotion for small farmers and businesses.

The report goes farther than either the White House or congressional Republican budget-cutters in urging a curtailment of the direct payments, said Jake Caldwell, author of the report and the center’s director of policy for agriculture, trade and energy.

Elimination of direct payments and other recommendations could save the federal government $35 billion by 2020, he claims.

There was an advisory board for the study, but a disclaimer says the report does not necessarily reflect their opinions.

The Center for American Progress claims to be a bipartisan research center, but has strong Democratic ties. Its CEO is John Podesta, who was a chief of staff to President Clinton. Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., has long been associated with the center as a fellow, but Caldwell said Daschle had no role in this report.