Although spending for most subsidy and conservation programs were set in the 2002 Farm Bill, the Administration's budget proposes significant changes and reductions to these politically popular programs. Agricultural land conservation programs bear the brunt of the cuts. Conservation programs would be cut by more than $800 million, a reduction of 17%. Funding for research and rural development are likewise targeted for major cuts. The budget also calls for reducing several crop subsidies and lowering the overall cap on aid to individual farmers.

The recommendations will sail into a strong political headwind with several key leaders in Congress already noting their opposition. The Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) all but ruled out the changes in comments yesterday. Sen. Cochran objected to reopening farm programs before the next Farm Bill reauthorization.

Like virtually all domestic programs, the Forest Service budget would also be cut under the President's proposal. Overall, the Forest Service would lose $721 million. The Urban and Community Forestry program is slated for a $4.4 million cut.

Fishing the Ozarks