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2012 Farm Bill hearings start under shadow of budget talks

By Nicole Payla Wood - The New Grange (July/August 2011)

  AUGUST 14, 2011 --

The House Agriculture Committee has started holding audit hearings on the new 2012 Farm Bill. 

In a recent interview, House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas laid out the tentative timeline for discussions and drafting of the 2012 Farm Bill. 

Lucas told Agri-pulse Open Mic listeners that the initial round of hearings at the subcommittee level can be expected this summer with field hearings occurring later in the fall. 

With discretionary spending in the Appropriations Agriculture bill being 13 percent less than in the last Farm Bill, many programs will be on the chopping block and the looming budget and debt ceiling debates will have a serious role in the shaping of the new farm bill. 

Congress and the White House have until Aug. 2 to come to an agreement on raising the debt ceiling. 

In order to fund the federal government through the end of President Obama’s term, approximately $2.4 trillion is needed. 

There are three main strategies of how these funds can be created. 

The first is driving up the federal government’s revenue by raising taxes and eliminating current tax cuts and exemptions. 

The second is cutting federal spending through the elimination of programs, subsidies and domestic aid. 

The last tactic is one that all parties are in agreement on, which is raising the debt limit. 

Republicans say they will not condone raising taxes on Americans during this economic recession while not reigning in Washington’s spending problem. 

Democrats say they will not talk about cutting spending without raising taxes. 

As far as progressing forward with the next farm bill, the subcommittees of the House Agriculture Committee will meet and hold audits hearings tasked with reviewing the effectiveness and efficiency of currently funded farm programs over the next two months. 

There is a reported agreement between the Senate, House and administration to cut at least $34 billion in farm subsidy payments for the next 10 years as part of the stop gap measure passed in the spring. 

Look for the repeal of certain ethanol producer tax credits and a phase out of the blenders credit as well. 

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