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Fiscal cliff could lead to farm bill cuts

By Lou Hillman, lhillman@wkbt.com
Published On: Nov 12 2012 10:10:57 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 13 2012 08:25:32 AM CST
LA CROSSE, Wis.. -

Unless Congress can pass a budget addressing the current deficit and long-term national debt, big changes are set to take place on January 1, 2013.

That's when the fiscal cliff would go into effect., meaning major spending cuts at the federal level and tax hikes for nearly every American.

"I think there's pain on both sides that would motivate members to get serious on the budget discussions that have to take place instead of just delaying it," said Rep. Ron Kind (D-3rd District).

Kind says he supports a popular Republican proposal to close tax loopholes. However, he says tax hikes are also needed to deal with the current fiscal problems.

"Fundamentally, it's not fair that we have multi-millionaires and multi-billionaires paying a lower effective tax rate in this country than most working families," said Kind.

The negotiations will also look at areas where cuts can be made to reduce the deficit. Some lawmakers are eyeing the recently-expired farm bill as a possible target.

"My concern is they don't understand what the farm bill is. 76% of it is non-farm subsidies," said Kevin Hoyer, a West Salem farmer. He is also on the board of the American Soybean Association.

Hoyer is worried about possible cuts to nutritional programs and programs designed to help farmers survive bad seasons.

"One of the cuts that kind of worries me is cutting the crop insurance benefits. Farmers look at (that as) a safety net to plan for the years," said Hoyer.

The negotiations are still in the early stages, but Congressman Kind predicts making a deal will require major compromises from both sides.

"The answer to the fiscal cliff is getting back to negotiating a long-term budget agreement and a deficit reduction agreement," said Kind.

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