President Barack Obama sent Congress his fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget that would impose -- if enacted by Congress -- a reduction in farm program direct payments and a revision downward in eligibility levels to receive farm program payments. The budget would maintain full funding for export-market development programs and target conservation funding. Overall, the president proposes a 10-year deficit reduction of $1.1 trillion.

For the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the FY 2012 budget submission would reduce the current cap on mandatory farm-bill authorized direct payments to farmers by 25 percent -- from $40,000 per person per year to $30,000 per person per year -- and reduce the two commodity payment eligibility limits -- for farm and non-farm adjusted gross income -- each by $250,000 over three years, resulting in a budgetary decrease in mandatory agricultural spending of $2.5 billion over 10 years.

"Direct payments are budget compliant, having been paid for in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008," USA Rice Federation VP Government Affairs Reece Langley said. "Farm bill spending represents only 1.7 percent of all federal spending, with commodity programs spending comprising as little as one-fourth of one percent of the federal budget."

Proposed FY 12 conservation funding would apportion to the Wetlands Reserve Program resources to restore and protect 271,158 acres of wetlands and allocate to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program over $1.4 billion for conservation assistance.

Two-thirds of the budget's proposed overall reductions are from spending cuts.  The president would freeze non-security discretionary spending, which would reduce the deficit by over $400 billion over the next decade.  Discretionary spending at the U.S. Department of Agriculture would decrease by $3.2 billion next fiscal year, to $23.9 billion.  FY 2012 begins on Oct. 1.