Farmers could be impacted depending on how the debt ceiling debate in Washington D.C. pans out. The Program Director for the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri, Pat Westhoff, says different proposals have differing approaches to farm programs.
Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid’s plan would reduce the amount of base acreages eligible for direct payments, meaning fewer dollars going to farmers as early as October of 2012. Other proposals would eliminate direct payments altogether. Westhoff says even if changes to farm programs are not made upon passage of a package, it may set into motion a process leading to reductions later.
Westhoff says eliminating direct payments would amount to 5 billion dollars out of the total budget defecit of over 1 trillion dollars. With cuts possible across all federal programs, however, Westhoff says it is difficult to defend any one of them. He says everything from annual appropriations bills to major spending packages will be thorougly studied.