With so much focus on reducing government expenditures in an effort to rein in the national debt, federal farm program payments have been and will continue to be examined for potential cuts. The pressure is increasing, especially with Congress about to begin the process of rewriting the next farm bill, according to the West Central Tribune.

But one must remember that farm program payments originate from a number of programs authorized by the 2008 farm bill, and that the dollars provided by each program can vary from year to year, depending largely on weather and economic conditions.

For many of our nation’s agricultural producers, the last several years have been very good years, both in terms of crop production and economic conditions.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, net farm income is forecast to reach $94.7 billion in 2011, up $15.7 billion or 19.8 percent from the 2010 forecast. The 2011 forecast is the second highest inflation-adjusted net farm income value of the past 35 years.

The recent profitability in farming is further evidenced by the fact that in the last 30 years, the top five earnings years all have occurred since 2004.

Meanwhile, the combination of good crops and a strong agricultural economy seems to be further fueling the debate regarding the need for some farm programs, or lawmakers’ resolve to at least reduce the amount of dollars allocated for some programs.

 According to USDA, total government payments paid directly to producers are expected to total $10.6 billion in 2011, a 12.7 percent decline from the $12.2 billion paid out in 2010.

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Source: West Central Tribune