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Oklahoma representative criticizes administration on direct payments to farmers

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The USDA wants to cut direct payments to large agribusinesses.
The USDA wants to cut direct payments to large agribusinesses.

President Barack Obama's call to end direct payments to some agribusinesses has drawn some criticism.

Representative Frank Lucas of Oklahoma sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack voicing concerns about the administration's proposal, which Lucas said would be detrimental to the livelihoods of ranchers and farmers.

Direct payments allow farmers to show bankers and Farm Credit that they have the income to repay their loans, Lucas said.

Under the 2008 Farm Act, direct payments are reduced by 20 percent for producers who elect to participate in the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) Program, according to the Department of Agriculture.
"Our farmers and ranchers are some of the hardest working people in the U.S. and they are struggling to make a living in a difficult economy," said Lucas, the Ranking Republican on the House Committee on Agriculture.

Vilsack said Thursday that payments will be cut for about 3 percent of farmers and ranchers with large incomes and big sales, Reuters reported.

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