Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Congress Seeks to Slash Food Aid for Poor

Congress Seeks to Slash Food Aid for Poor

By LIBBY QUAID, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 6 minutes ago

Under orders to whittle agriculture spending by $3 billion, Republicans in Congress propose to slash food programs for the poor by $574 million and subsidies and conservation programs by $1 billion each, The Associated Press has learned.

The plan by Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., would reduce farmers' payments by 2.5 percent across the board, slashing spending by $1.145 billion over five years. That's half the 5 percent the Bush administration sought earlier this year.

The $574 million cut in food stamps would come from restricting access to this benefit for certain families that receive other government assistance. The restriction would shut an estimated 300,000 people out of the program.

The conservation cuts would curb the number of acres that can be enrolled in the biggest of the programs, the Conservation Reserve Program, and limit spending on two others, the Conservation Security Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

Omitted from the budget-cutting plan is President Bush's idea of cutting billions of dollars from payments to large farm operations by lowering the maximum subsidies that could be collected each year.

The administration backed off of that plan in April amid fierce opposition from farmers and Congress.

The AP obtained a summary of the plan, which is scheduled for a Thursday morning vote in Chambliss' committee.

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