President Bush's Budget Cuts Would Hit Hard on the South Plains - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/7/05

President Bush's Budget Cuts Would Hit Hard on the South Plains

The 2002 farm bill was supposed to stay, as written, until the year 2007. NewsChannel 11 found local farmers and our own Congressman think it should stay that way.

Those involved with agriculture on the South Plains say the farm bill has provided stability to their industry and allowed unprecedented growth. They say farmers have made long range decisions based on the bill and to disrupt it now, would not be wise.

Roger Haldenby with Plains Cotton Growers says, "My cell phone has rung a dozen times over the weekend. People saying we don't like this too much."

The way Haldenby understands it, the President's budget proposal would cut farm program payments by about 5% and cut the maximum amount of money a producer can receive under the program.

"They need the safety net, in bad years, of a government support program and if the safety net has big holes in it, somebody may slip through," says Haldenby.

Congressman Randy Neugebauer says the President's proposal will have to make it past the Ag Committee first. As a member of that committee, he will look for alternatives to cutting the program.

"I'm concerned about cutting farm programs in the middle of the farm bill. I've been on the record as saying I don't think that's good policy for our country," says Neugebauer.

Neugebauer supports the President's efforts to reduce the deficit but believes Congress must look at the entire U.S. Department of Agriculture budget, not just at farming programs.

When asked if he'll go to bat for the people he represents, Neugebauer says, "Oh, absolutely. I think it's important for people to understand this is the President's proposal and he has an opportunity to send his proposal, but the U.S. Congress makes that decision."

Congressman Neugebauer says in the farm program's first two years of operation, it operated at $17 billion less than budgeted." NewsChannel 11 asked the Congressman if there was any chance the farm bill would go unscathed. He said it's hard to say, the debate will begin soon in Congress.

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