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Sequestration proposal calls for cuts to farm subsidies

11:59 PM, Feb 23, 2013   |    comments
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Lawmakers have presented multiple plans to stop sequestration before it goes into effect March 1, but some local farmers say they have their doubts about one proposal in particular.

Senate Democrats created a plan that would cut farming subsidies by 27.5 billion dollars over the next ten years.  Their goal is to avert the automatic federal budget cuts that would save the country more than $80 billion in spending.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., is also the chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. She said she supports the plan.

"The choice facing congress is to allow drastically irresponsible cuts to hit every part of our budget and cost 750,000 jobs, or to make smart, targeted cuts," she said. "Billions in direct payment subsidies are paid out even in good times and for crops farmers aren't even growing."

But, David Mitchell, a Grainger County resident who's family has run a farm for 200 years, said the Democrats' subsidy plan would hurt farmers.

He said the subsidies are needed for whenever natural disasters impacts farmers' crops. Mitchell also said subsidy money is needed to help farmers whenever prices on certain commodities drop drastically low.

"That's the reason we quit milking, the milk prices go so low [and] the input prices got so high," he said. "We just weren't making any money, so we just quit."

Mitchell said lawmakers should look at cutting certain entitlement programs instead.

"They want to cut what agriculture gets instead of all the [subsidies] welfare gets," he said.

According to Mitchell, if the Democrats' plan were to be approved, it would likely have no effect on crop prices. He said those costs are typically determined by supply and demand.

Mitchell said subsidies are usually distributed to farmers when the prices on crops are already high.

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