Monday, August 8, 2011

Just in from Washington

Peterson: Ag Fares Better if ‘Super Committee’ Whiffs

Washington--Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, is suggesting that a stalemate by the so-called 12-member, bipartisan budget deficit “super committee” could work in favor of the farm program. Peterson told the recent annual meeting of the American Sugar Alliance that if the super committee is unable to pass an agreement to make further budget cuts, terms of the budget deal would kick in and there would be across-the-board cuts in defense and non-defense spending. He said that would likely result in lower cuts for agriculture than if the super committee targeted specific programs.

Peterson said that if the broad cuts happen, only about $5 billion or $6 billion in ag cuts would take place. That amount would represent about a 4 percent or 5 percent cut from the agriculture budget, he said. According to Peterson, that amount is determined by dividing the $1.2 trillion in total cuts by the spending on all government programs, except those considered exempt.

He said the automatic cuts would be far smaller than the $11 billion reduction to ag programs that had been discussed during earlier budget talks. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which delivers food stamps, and the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program, that pays landowners to idle tracts of land for conservation, would be exempt from any across-the-board cuts.

Transcript of interview with Peterson

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