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Diverse coalition tells Obama to develop balanced deficit reduction approach

A broad coaltion has expressed strong opposition to any deficit reduction package that would disproportionately impact U.S. farmers, ranchers and rural America.

USA Rice Federation and 132 other national, regional, and state organizations yesterday wrote President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to express strong opposition to any deficit reduction package that would disproportionately impact U.S. farmers, ranchers and rural America.

"We are deeply concerned about any requirement that cuts be implemented for 2012, effectively reneging on commitments already made to and relied upon by producers and their lenders under the five-year 2008 farm bill," the organizations wrote.  "Furthermore, we strongly believe that any policy decisions or mandated cuts ought to be determined by the congressional committees of jurisdiction and made in the context of the 2012 farm bill."

Recognizing the need to reduce government indebtedness, farm organizations are willing "to shoulder a proportionate share of budget reductions in relation to the share of the budget devoted to farm and ranch assistance," the organizations declared.  In fact, agriculture may have been the only sector to step forward to address deficit reduction, despite "having already been cut three times in the past six years, most recently with significant cuts to crop insurance."

USA Rice Federation Chairman Jackie Loewer and USA Rice Producers' Group Chairman Frank Rehermann recently expressed deep concerns to rice-state U.S. representatives about media reports suggesting farm policy might be singled out for disproportionate budget cuts as part of debt ceiling and deficit reduction negotiations.  Farm policy's share of the total federal budget is estimated to be about one quarter of 1 percent. 

Loewer and Rehermann are rice producers in Louisiana and California, respectively.

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