11:11am

Tue June 5, 2012
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Tennessee Farmers "Resigned" to Subsidy Changes

WASHINGTON (AP/WMOT) — A program that puts billions of dollars in the pockets of farmers may disappear soon with hardly a protest from Tennessee farm groups and politicians.

As early as today, the U.S. Senate could begin debating a five-year farm and food aid bill that would save $9.3 billion by ending direct payments to farmers. The details are still to be worked out. But there's rare agreement that fixed annual subsidies of $5 billion a year for farmers are no longer feasible in this age of tight budgets.

Dr. Warren Gill, Chair of the Middle Tennessee State University Ag Department says Tennessee farmers are seeing the hand-writing on the wall.

“Historically, the subsidies have helped farmers through bad times, helped keep people in the farming business. Right now, farmin’ is one of the brightest economic sectors. The commodity prices are quite good.”

If the direct subsidies are reduced or eliminated, Congress is likely to increase the availability of subsidized crop insurance which Dr. Gill says Tennessee farmers prefer in any case.