The White House's bipartisan deficit-reduction commission is considering a proposal to slash farm spending by $3 billion a year, according to the Des Moines Register.

The proposal calls for reductions to the $4.7 billion a year in fixed payments to grain and cotton farmers, a land-conservation program authored by Sen. Tom Harkin, (D-Iowa), and subsidies for overseas promotion of U.S. farm products.

Government payments to farmers and landowners have been running at about $12 billion a year, not including the cost of the federally subsidized crop insurance program, which the panel excluded from the proposed cuts.

Harkin's Conservation Stewardship Program rewards farmers who take measures to reduce pollution from their farms and conserve water. Payments totaled $700 million for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. Such green payments benefit the public more than traditional farm subsidies, say Conservation Stewardship Program supporters.

Harkin said that "reducing the deficit is crucial" but objected to cutting the conservation program, "which has a favorable impact on farm practices and the environment and should be preserved."

Read the full report.

Source: Des Moines Register