Feds put squeeze on farmers

Andy Christiansen

In April, a committee in the U.S. House of Representatives proposed that farm subsidies be substantially decreased so that the funds may be used to help pay off the national deficit.

The proposed amendments to the Farm Bill calls for subsidies to only be paid to farmers who make around $250,000 a year, as opposed to the $750,000 a farmer can presently make and still receive funds from the government.

“We came into this knowing that there would be some sort of cut somewhere,” said Jolene Neuhauser of the Woodford County Farm Bureau. “This is no surprise.”

Neuhauser said that the Farm Bill is constantly changing, and that the bureau has a farm policy task force that monitors the progression of the Farm Bill at all times.

“It’s up to us to evaluate and kind of form some opinion,” she said.

The task force is composed of Farm Bureau members from across the state, as well as experts from across the country.

“The thing you have to realize is we are not just talking about corn and soybeans; there are cotton and tobacco growers,” Neuhauser said.

There is also much more to the agriculture business than just planting and harvesting crops.

A large portion of goods produced by farmers goes toward programs such as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance program— or SNAP— which helps provide food for low-income families,  as well as supplying lunch for schools across the state.

Seventy-five percent of the Farm Bill is for food nutrition programs,” she said. “The remaining quarter is for farm spending.”

Neuhauser also said there are many variables that farmers have little or no control over, which makes agriculture a tough business to be in.

 “Weather is very volatile, and those are things we cannot control in this industry. That’s the importance of the Farm Bill,” said Neuhauser.

“It provides the support that we need, because it is a risky business. By knowing that we have those price supports from the government, it helps minimize the risk.”

Despite the risk involved, and the potential for subsidy cuts from the federal government, Neuhauser said that farmers in Woodford County are, at the moment, economically safe.

“Farmers are being supported by the market,” Neuhauser said.

“I think if you asked any farmer, that is what they would like to see: the market providing the income that they need, rather than relying on the government.”