Vilsack says time has come to reform U.S. farm subsidies

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nashville / reuters Congress should reform U.S. farm subsidies and end a $5-billion-a-year “direct payment” as part of delivering an overdue overhaul of the farm program this year, says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Instead, the farm safety net should be built on the federally subsidized crop insurance system, he said.

“We need a five-year Farm Bill and we need it now,” said Vilsack, who has been appointed for President Barack Obama’s second term.

Farm-state lawmakers have proposed $23 billion to $35 billion in cuts in Agriculture Department programs over 10 years. The administration proposed $31 billion, including an end to the direct payment and scaling back crop insurance subsidies for big farmers.

The Farm Bill would cost roughly $500 billion, with the bulk of the money going to food stamps for the poor.

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