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Published March 29, 2011, 09:51 AM

Stabenow: Wait on budget decisions

WASHINGTON — Reacting to speculation that continuing a resolution to fund the government for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 could include cuts to farm bill subsidies, Senate Agriculture Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said March 11 that budget decisions regarding agriculture should not be made until the 2012 farm bill is written.

By: Jerry Hagstrom, Special to Agweek

WASHINGTON — Reacting to speculation that continuing a resolution to fund the government for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 could include cuts to farm bill subsidies, Senate Agriculture Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said March 11 that budget decisions regarding agriculture should not be made until the 2012 farm bill is written.

“Decisions concerning the agriculture budget must be evaluated and made through the farm bill reauthorization process. Agriculture has already contributed $4 billion to shrink the deficit through cuts in crop insurance, and the farm bill budget is already smaller, due in part to high commodity prices. We will continue to hold programs accountable and cut what doesn’t work to reduce the deficit,” Stabenow wrote in an e-mail to Agweek. “Everything is on the table — and should be — but it is essential that decisions about our rural economy and food policy be done in a comprehensive way through the reauthorization of the farm bill,” she added.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said recently that fiscal 2011 budget talks could be expanded to include oil subsidies and farm programs, though he did not provide specifics about farm cuts. House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said he would consider cuts to ethanol and farm programs. Farm bill critics also have suggested that the farm program be cut in a period of high prices.

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