HILL CITY, Kan. — This is what Washington’s new austerity has brought.
A freshman Republican congressman, himself a fifth-generation corn farmer and his family a longtime beneficiary of government agricultural subsidies, drove through the endless fields of far-flung western Kansas to deliver a difficult message.
“Everybody needs to share,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp told a few dozen townsfolk sitting patiently on the hard wooden benches of the Graham County Courthouse. “If you’re a farmer like me, you’re going to expect less. Something’s going to go away. The direct payments are going to go away.”
Huelskamp appears to be right. Dramatically cutting or eliminating direct crop subsidies, which totaled about $5 billion last year, has emerged as one of the few areas of agreement in the budget talks underway between the White House and congressional leaders of both parties.
In their recent budget proposals, House Republicans and House Democrats targeted farm subsidies, a program long protected by members of both parties. The GOP plan includes a $30 billion cut to direct payments over 10 years, which would slash them by more than half. Those terms are being considered in the debt-reduction talks led by Vice President Biden, according to people familiar with the discussions.
“There’s no sacred cows anymore,”