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Harkin Wants to Reduce Direct Payments

The Senate Ag Committee Chair suggests scaling back direct payments and making sure land not producing crops doesn't collect subsidies.

The 2007 Farm Bill should reduce the $5.2 billion in annual direct payments for commodity farmers and make sure subsidy funds are there when farmers need them, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, says.

Harkin also points out that updating crop acreage bases, in order to exclude land no longer being used for crops, could save millions of dollars.

University of Missouri's Pat Westoff says in a Reuters report that since crop support acreage bases have not been adequately updated, most crops have larger acreage bases than actual plantings.

"I'm 99% sure you would have a savings" if the bases were updated, he says. Westoff says that wheat, barley, cotton and rice have larger bases than plantings, though soybeans have lower plantings than their historic base, and corn plantings and base are about equal.

Harkin says that some $200 million a year could be saved by refusing to make direct payments on land no longer in crops.

TAGS: USDA Soybeans
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