The failure of the congressional supercommittee charged with cutting the U.S. federal budget deficit scuttles a plan by the House and Senate agriculture committees to cut $23 billion in spending, panel leaders said.
The supercommittee's "failure to reach a deal on an overall deficit-reduction package effectively ends this effort," House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, an Oklahoma Republican, and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, said today in an e-mail.
The plan, which was never publicly released, would have done away with about $5 billion in annual payments to farmers made regardless of crop prices. The subsidy would have been replaced partially with insurance against "shallow losses" created by drops in revenue, according to lawmakers including Representative Ron Kind, a Wisconsin Democrat.
Agricultural subsidies estimated at $10.2 billion stood out as a target for budget cutters after the USDA forecast record farm profits this year of $103.6 billion.
Lucas and Stabenow said their committees will now focus on crafting the next farm bill, due next year.
Some lawmakers said the budget-cutting proposal would have formed the foundation of the next farm bill, legislation which is usually enacted every five years to govern agricultural policy.
Pat Roberts of Kansas, the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, said the plan cited by Lucas and Stabenow had been forged in "secret," adding that's "not the way to write the farm bill."
In an e-mail, Roberts said he has "substantial concerns" about provisions of the proposal, including "distribution of spending reductions between commodities, nutrition and specialty-crop programs."
With reporting by Derek Wallbank in Washington. Editors: Daniel Enoch, Patrick McKiernan.