Two members of the Senate agriculture committee, both with ties to agriculture in the South, say they will fight proposed cuts in farm subsidies.
Senators Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., also say they will fight attempts to lower the income cap for operations eligible to receive susidies. The 2002 Farm Bill set the cap at $2.5 million, while the administration's farm bill proposals for 2007 included lowering the cap to $200,000.
"Two hundred thousand dollars to the average guy is a lot of money," Chambliss says in an Associated Press story. "But what we in agriculture know is, $200,000 in adjusted gross income means once you get to that point, then you've got to pay for that $250,000 combine, that $100,000 tractor that you've got to have to operate your facilities."
Chambliss went further to say the move to lower the income was "intended to strike at Southeastern agriculture."
Many nations oppose trade-distorting subsidies paid to U.S. farmers, and the issue helped to derail the Doha round of global trade talks in 2006. Lincoln says the U.S. market is open to foreign agricultural goods, but that "changes must occur in places other than just the United States."
Both Senators say an unfamiliarity with agriculture among legislators is contributing to support for cutting farm subsidies.
"The fact is, there are fewer and fewer members of Congress representing rural states or districts that depend on an agriculturally based economy, not to mention fewer and fewer members of Congress that actually have a direct relationship with production agriculture," says Lincoln.