The U.S. is fast closing on its debt ceiling, increasing the urgency to reach a budget cutting compromise that Republicans and Democrats can agree to. While Rep. Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget proposal recommended cutting a whopping $30 billion from farm programs, an even greater cut is under consideration.

Vice President Joe Biden is leading a debt ceiling group that plans to cut $200 billion from the budget. Rumors circulating indicate that close to one quarter of that – or about $45 billion – could come from agriculture, specifically the Commodity Title and crop insurance, and the Biden group would themselves write that policy.

While it is vital to cut the deficit and reach an agreement on the debt ceiling, common sense dictates that using a program that comprises a mere one quarter of one percent of the federal budget to achieve one fourth of total deficit reduction, is far beyond the scope of fairness. Whatever deficit reductions come from agriculture should be turned over to the agriculture committees to ultimately draft the policies and programs that will so deeply affect our farmers, food, fiber and fuel supply, and rural economy.

Most importantly, both the House and Senate must vote to ratify any deficit cutting agreement. NSP is working hard with members of Congress, both within and outside of the Biden group, to inform them of the imbalanced cuts and build support for maintaining the agriculture safety net.