America's farmers and ranchers would take too big of a hit in President Obama's proposed deficit-cutting plan released earlier this week, said U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D.
"Agriculture was hit very hard in his plan. ... I was alarmed," Noem told reporters Thursday. "Folks in South Dakota understand the need for sacrifice, but we need to make sure it's not disproportionate to other areas of the federal budget. Agriculture has taken cuts over the last three years already that other areas haven't taken."
Noem said Obama's plan would cut subsidies for farmers and ranchers while leaving largely untouched the 85 percent of the farm bill that doesn't involve agricultural producers.
"This is not the first time agriculture has been targeted in budget plans, and it won't be the last. But we can't allow agriculture to be unfairly targeted," she said.
Noem said Obama's plan would cut agriculture subsidies by 22 percent, a far higher rate than other federal programs might expect in cuts.
"We haven't seen anything close to this in any other area of government. We will work hard to tell the story of how we feed this country and feed the world," she said.
Noem said there's a broad consensus that direct-payment subsidies will go away in the United States. That cut will be accepted in the agriculture community. However, she worries about proposed cuts to the relatively new crop insurance program, largely designed to avoid large ad hoc disaster payments in the events of crop failures and livestock losses.
"I hear every day from farmers across the state that they need risk management. To put the crop insurance industry in jeopardy is just the wrong thing to do," Noem said.
Members of Congress are working on an alternative proposal, she said.
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