Daily News Archive
From September 21, 2001

Bush Backs 'Green' Farm Payments

Reuters has reported that the Bush administration gave its support to "green" payments to farmers who practice land, water and wildlife stewardship.

The administration stated that larger exports were crucial to farm prosperity and warned against over-dependence on farm subsidies in a 120-page paper laying out its long-term agriculture policy. The document offered no specific legislative suggestions concerning spending levels, but did say that stewardship incentives should be part of the federal conservation portfolio now dominated by programs that pay farmers to idle fragile land.

Congress is currently part way through an overhaul of US farm supports. The major issue is whether to create green payments that reward farmers who make conservation part of their day to day operations or to continue to rely on traditional crop subsidies to support farmers -the route taken by the House Agriculture Committee, which has been based on a farm's output of grains or cotton since the Depression. A shift toward larger conservation spending, particularly green payments, could give small and mid-size producers a larger share of farm subsidies and make payments available to ranchers and specialty crop growers not currently eligible for direct support.

Hints that agricultural funding may be trimmed due to a jump in US spending for defense could cause debate could become even more heated in the coming weeks. Farm spending could be curtailed to offset the cost of disaster relief and larger military spending in response to last week's attacks.

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