Ag Panel Lists Budget Cut Options

Members of the House Agriculture Committee said Wednesday they will look at tougher enforcement of crop subsidy rules, streamlining the USDA or changing public food programs if spending cuts are required in 2004.

Spending cuts may be needed to deal with the mushrooming federal deficit. As part of this year's spending plan, Congressional committees were asked to compile lists of ways to cut spending by 1%. The Senate Agriculture Committee has not yet drafted its list.

Members of the House Agriculture Committee approved their list during a brief meeting, Reuters News Service reported. According to Reuters, the Committee's letter listed seven areas for potential action:

  • Requiring greater use of "advanced statistical techniques to guide fraud investigations" in crop insurance and farm subsidies.

  • Tightening farm program rules to qualify for subsidies.

  • Consolidating commodity program payment statements to producers.

  • Gradually putting a moratorium on land purchases by the Forest Service.

  • Better delivery of rural development money.

  • Modifying nutrition programs; public food programs such as school lunch and food stamps account for more than 60% of USDA spending.

  • Streamlining USDA to eliminate redundant agencies. USDA operations were reorganized during the early years of the Clinton era.

Editors note: Richard Brock, The Corn and Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

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