With a budget axe threatening, Maryland and Virginia farm interests are hoping to protect their turf as Congress begins to hash out the details of the next Farm bill. Federal payments to farmers continue to be an attractive target for budget hawks.
Virginia farmers received $106 million in federal subsidies in 2009, while Maryland farmers got $56 million. The Obama Administration wants to cut off farmers from the program who gross more than $500,000 in farm-related income, and $250,000 in non-farm income.
Don Carr is a senior policy and communications advisor for the Environmental Working Group.
“The top 10 percent of the wealthiest farmers receive 74 percent of the subsidies, so it’s going to be harder to justify continuing making these payments in a time of tight budgets and large deficits,” says Carr.
Growers of corn, wheat, cotton, rice and soybeans receive the biggest payouts. They argue the system helps keep the prices of American food low and those lobbying on their behalf have a lot of political clout in Washington.