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View from the Hill: Farm Subsidies: Use’em While You Got’em

By Nicole Palya Wood, View from the Hill National Grange Legislative Blog (5/6/11)

  MAY 17, 2011 --

For over a year, there has been no question that Medicare was the large beast about to be slayed in the budget battle.  On the heels of the November elections, many thought that even a repeal of Obamacare was possible.  Few were thinking at the time of the remarkable ability of an incumbent Senator who barely won his own election, Senate Leader Harry Reid, to stave off a Medicare deconstruction.  Exit stage left and enter the House Republicans 6 months later.

This week, House Republican Leadership announced that cutting Medicare would no longer be their focus and that they were looking at other large programs such as farm subsidies for cost containment. There has long been a notion that farm subsidies would take a cut in the next Farm Bill, slated to be passed in 2012. However, it appears more and more likely that it may be a complete overhaul of the subsidy system.  Fortunately, for agriculture an overhaul may not take place until 2013.  So if you are a large production farmer who currently utilizes subsidies, I would advise you to use’em while you got’em. Shoot, even Prince Charles was chewing on Obama’s ear this week about the evils of farm subsidies.

Earlier this week, I was on Capitol Hill speaking with some Republican freshman who serve on the House Agriculture Committee and I asked them how their recent negotiations were going on the debt ceiling and the budget. It seems that one thing everyone is agreeing on is that the debt ceiling must be lifted. As far as what should be cut in the new budget, there was little agreement.  However, there was a certain new buzz in the air about how many on the agriculture committee do not believe there is going to be a 2012 Farm Bill.  There is a great deal of doubt that a bill this large with so many moving parts could possibly weather a presidential campaign and the political finger pointing that comes with it. By holding up a Farm Bill in the Senate, even if the House passes a bi-partisan measure, this could mean a great deal of newly elected Republican freshman going home with incompletes on their report cards.  Senator Harry Reid may still have the trump card on the next election cycle after all. 

- Nicole Palya Wood
Legislative Director

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