Agriculture Chairmen Ask Supercommittee Not to Cut More Than $23 Billion from Farm Programs (via The Hill)

By Erik Wasson

The leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture committees will recommend that the deficit supercommittee cut no more than $23 billion from farm programs, but are not providing details Friday.

House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Senate Agriculture Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and ranking member Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) are making the recommendation in a joint letter to the deficit supercommittee on Friday. Farm-state members are eager to head off deeper cuts to farm payments and conservation programs in the name of fiscal responsibility.

According to an aide, the leaders are pledging to provide a joint set of specific policy recommendations by Nov. 1.

The supercommittee, a new panel created by the August deal to raise the federal debt ceiling, is charged with finding a minimum of $1.2 trillion in deficit savings by Nov. 23. In reality, the group must come to some agreement in early Novemeber to have the report scored by the Congressional Budget Office.

Farm subsidies have been targeted in President Obama’s 2010, 2011 and 2012 budget requests, and were on the chopping block in the deficit talks led by Vice President Biden this summer. Negotiators contemplated $33 billion in farm program cuts during those talks.

Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), a member of the supercommittee, on Friday acknowledged that while farmers “want to pay their fair share they don’t want to be taken advantage of either.”

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