House panel votes to cut farm subsidies

By MARY CLARE JALONICK | May 31, 2011 | 10:13 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — A House committee has voted to cut farm subsidies to pay for deficit reduction and other budget priorities, chipping away at billions of dollars directed each year to farmers.

Votes on Tuesday in the House Appropriations Committee may be a preview of what is expected to be a tough year for agriculture programs. Lawmakers have increasingly looked to farm subsidies as a source of money for other priorities as crop prices have reached record levels.

In a surprise move, the panel approved an amendment to lower the maximum adjusted gross income a farmer can have to earn certain subsidies.

That would dip into direct payments to farmers, which are a type of subsidy paid regardless of crop price or yield. Those payments reach about $5 billion a year.