WASHINGTON - The leaders of the agriculture committees from both parties in both the House and Senate are recommending the deficit-cutting "super committee" expect $23 billion in cuts to ag programs over the next decade.
Rep. Collin Peterson, who's the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, was one of the signatories to a letter to the super committee outlining the proposals.
The bipartisan agreement on an overall level of cuts among is significant because farm subsidies have been identified by both conservative Republicans and the Obama Administration as one potential area for agreement. The administration has already proposed making $33 billion in cuts to agriculture over the next decade.
The farm bill, which authorizes most agricultural spending, is also up for renewal in 2012, so this agreement maps out the new bill's likely contours. Direct payments to farmers will almost certainly be ended as a result of this deal and a greater emphasis will likely be placed on crop insurance.
The letter does not outline specific cuts but promises a complete legislative package by Nov. 1 and says the level of budget reductions being proposed is greater than the cuts to agriculture would be if the super committee deadlocks and automatic across the board cuts are made.
In other words, the House and Senate agriculture committees are telling the budget cutters, "We've got this under control. We're going to make deep cuts, but we'd like to make those cuts ourselves rather than have them imposed by the super committee."