WASHINGTON — Farmers are willing to give up a federal program that paid out more than $81 million in Oklahoma in 2010, but they want an enhanced crop insurance system to protect against catastrophic losses, the president of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau said here Monday.
Mike Spradling said in an interview that farmers are willing to do their part as lawmakers work to cut federal spending.
“But we can't afford to do more than our part,'' Spradling said.
Spradling and other members of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau were in Washington as the U.S. House prepared to take
$23B to be cut
Farm-state leaders, including Rep. Frank Lucas, the Oklahoma Republican who is chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, developed a budget plan last year that would cut $23 billion over 10 years, but the House GOP plan would cut well
“Compared to an overall economy that is recovering slowly, the American agricultural sector is improving dramatically,” the Republican budget says.
“The record-breaking prosperity of American farmers and farm communities is to be celebrated. But it
Lucas, of Cheyenne, said last week that he would caution people about “reading too much into the numbers” in President Barack Obama's budget — which also calls for deep cuts to farm programs — or the House Republican budget. The numbers, he said, were only “suggestions.”
Lucas said his committee this year would write “a fiscally responsible farm bill that ensures Americans continue to have a safe, affordable and stable food supply.”
The president and House Republicans have targeted so-called direct payments, which are a creature of the 1996 farm bill. Unlike historical crop subsidies that are tied to crop prices in the market, direct payments are made to people whether they're still farming or not.
They have been highly controversial because they are not tied to crop production — and were originally meant to be phased out.
$81M paid out in state
According to the Environmental Work Group's database on farm payments, about 27,000 people in Oklahoma shared more than $81 million in direct payments in 2010. Slightly more than half of those people received less than $1,000 that year, but six farms received more than $100,000.
“We realize that direct payments are gone,” Spradling said. “We're willing to give those up. But we need to shift some of that toward a self-help program, such as the crop
Spradling said farmers “don't want a farm bill program that guarantees a profit to farmers and ranchers.”
He said, “We can certainly assume a certain amount of risk. We're just in business just like everyone else.”
Compared to an overall economy that is recovering slowly, the American agricultural sector is improving dramatically.''
The Republican budget