In his address Tuesday to a joint session of Congress President Barack Obama proposed eliminating what are known as direct payments — subsidies that are paid to farmers regardless of crop prices or crop yield.
"These are farms for the most part that receive a disproportionate amount of direct payments, and I think over a period of time, the president believes … that those need to be adjusted," said Vilsack.
He did not give specific details about farm spending changes proposed in the Obama administration’s budget.
The Ag Secretary said that providing school children with fruits, vegetables and more nutritious food in school lunch and other public nutrition programs will be a priority for the department.
The administration wants to curb the long-term costs of treating illnesses caused by obesity, he said, noting 36% of America’s children are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight.
Republicans not happy
US Rep. Frank Lucas says the cut in some government subsidies to farmers show a lack of understanding about the agricultural industry.
Lucas, member of the House Agriculture Committee, said he has sent a letter to Vilsack complaining about the plan.
“To give you a recap, commodity prices have dropped significantly over the last year,” Lucas said in the letter.
“And, the agriculture community has nervously watched this price drop while inputs have stayed the same or increased.
“At a time when the USDA recently reported that US net farm income is down 20% from last year, it is irresponsible to even think of eliminating the one stable form of support for our producers.
“Our producers use these direct payments to get credit for their whole operations. Direct payments allow farmers to show bankers and Farm Credit that they have the income to repay their loans,” he said.