We're off to the Transparency Camp, so here's a quick digest of news. City Page's gives Congressman Walz their Soccer Mom Award for his wheels in The cars of the Minnesota congressional members. Given the age of the Walz children, a mini-van makes sense in a practical, Southern Minnesota sort of way.
On a far more serious notes, MinnPost reports Obama plan cuts off federal payments to thousands of Minnesota farmers (direct payments):
In addition to eliminating direct payments for certain farmers, Obama calls for a reduction in federal insurance subsidies for insurers and farmers. "Subsidies for crop insurance companies have grown rapidly without improving program coverage or customer service for farmers," stated Obama.
Both the insurance and the direct payments, however, are designed to protect farms against catastrophic losses, Walz said.
"You don't want to see our farms go the way of the banks or the auto industry," said Walz, adding. "I am not sure that these are the best [provisions] at this precarious time."
Views from farmers
Kristen Weeks Duncanson farms corn and soybeans, among other crops, in Mapleton, Minn. She would be one of the farmers in Minnesota affected by the proposed cut.
While Duncanson's farm does not currently need the federal direct payment money to operate, she said that it is "reassuring" to have it just in case.
"Direct payments come in handy when you have these wild circumstances [in the markets]," Duncanson said. "That is what the government is for, providing a safety net."
Many agriculture groups also oppose the farm portion of the president's budget.
Direct payments are one of the least controversial types of subsidies in the world trade arena because they are not based on annual prices and yields, according to Tara Smith, director of Congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau.
Smith also pointed to the vast discrepancy between farm sales and actual profit as another problem with the president’s plan. The average soybean farm selling about $500,000 in crops is only making about $36,000 after expenses are taken out, Smith said.