The House Appropriations Committee has approved an amendment that will limit farm program payments to producers with incomes of no more than $250,000 a year and shift the savings to federal nutrition programs.

The amendment was offered by Rep. Jeff Blake, an Arizona Republican who has targeted farm subsidies in the past but was never able to generate the support to get the language included in a five-year farm bill or an annual appropriations bill.

“Nobody is willing publicly to defend this kind of largesse,” Flake was quoted as telling reporters after the Appropriations Committee approved his amendment and a number of other spending cuts in farm programs and in research and alternative fuel programs conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The budget blueprint approved by the Appropriations Committee would also end payments to Brazil that were negotiated as part of the settlement of the WTO case brought by that country’s government against the U.S. cotton program.

Means test

Officials with the National Cotton Council blasted both the new means test for farm program payment and the elimination of the appropriation that provides a fund of $147.3 million a year for the Brazil settlement.

“As the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are beginning the process of developing the successor legislation to the 2008 farm bill, the House Appropriations Committee has undertaken a misguided approach to farm policy,” said Charles Parker, the NCC chairman and a cotton producer from Senate, Mo.

He said the combined effect of two amendments offered by Reps. Flake and Rosa L. DeLauro, D-Conn., would violate the Framework Agreement established between the United States and Brazilian governments in June 2010.

The latter was negotiated to provide an orderly resolution of the WTO trade dispute involving the export credit guarantee programs and certain provisions of the upland cotton program. As part of the agreement, the United States committed to establish a fund of $147.3 million per year that would provide technical assistance and capacity building for Brazil’s cotton industry.