by Philip Brasher, DesMoinesRegister.com
With the agricultural economy booming, the largest farm operations can afford to take a cut in subsidies to help trim the ballooning budget deficit, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says.
President Barack Obama recently proposed a 2012 budget that revives a proposal to tighten income eligibility for farm subsidies and to slash the amount that large farms and landowners can collect.
Congress has rejected similar proposals at the behest of farm groups, but Vilsack said the cuts are imperative to help address the deficit.
“We continue to maintain a strong safety net for people who are most need of that safety net,” Vilsack said of the budget.
The Agriculture Department on Monday estimated that net farm income would reach $95 billion this year, up 20 percent from last year. If the forecast is right, 2011 will be the second best year for farm income in the past 35 years when adjusted for inflation.