The Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C. has released a comprehensive deficit and debt reduction plan entitled "Restoring America's Future." Written by the Center's Debt Reduction Task Force, the plan aims to reduce national debt to below 60% of the economy, reduce annual deficits to manageable levels, and balance the primary budget, which includes everything other than interest payments, by 2014.
The proposal would impact agriculture by recommending elimination of all support payments based on production history to large commercial producers with combined farm and non-farm adjusted gross incomes of greater than $250,000; and lowering of the cap on direct payments based on production history from its current $40,000 to $20,000. The counter-cyclical payments would remain intact.
The proposal would also reduce the Federal Crop Insurance Programs' administrative and operating costs subsidies to levels consistent with recent studies that estimate a reasonable rate of return for crop insurance companies. The Task Force plan would also reduce the premium subsidy for farmers from its current 60% level to 50%.
Finally, the Bipartisan Policy Center's Debt Reduction Task Force report would consolidate and cap conservation programs. According to the report, there is significant overlap between the various conservation programs that USDA funds, which creates inefficiencies that strain the federal budget. This proposal would eliminate that overlap by consolidating 16 of the programs into one capped entitlement that grows with inflation.