House Cuts Honey Subsidies From Ag Spending Bill
WASHINGTON (AP) _ House Republicans found little to like about President Clinton’s deficit reduction plan, but they did agree with him that the nation doesn’t need a $17 million honey subsidy program.
By a lopsided 344-60 margin, the House on Friday cut the subsidy program out of a $71 billion spending bill for the Agriculture Department and other agencies. The bill went back for a final vote in the Senate, which earlier had passed the overall bill, but which had retained some of the honey subsidy funding.
Clinton had promised in last year’s campaign to stop the program. But it took a Republican-sponsored amendment for the House to deliver on his pledge.
″I love to see agreement with President Clinton’s position on your side of the aisle,″ Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colo., said. Republicans had unanimously opposed Clinton’s deficit-reduction plan in Thursday night’s 218-216 vote.
The House on Friday did not touch another controversial and more expensive program - wool and mohair subsidies. The Senate had deleted funding for that $190 million program when it voted on the spending bill July 27.
House and Senate negotiators then restored the wool and mohair subsidy but lowered it with the understanding that the Clinton deficit bill also would cut the top payment available to individuals from $150,000 to $50,000. The negotiators did the same with the honey subsidy, but the House on Friday stripped the program from the bill entirely.
The honey program dates to the World War II era, when the government wanted to protect an alternative to sugar. Critics say the program benefits only a few producers.
About 4,000 people receive price supports under the program. Less than 10 percent, however, receive half the total subsidy amount.
Supporters say the program aids many small producers who receive payments of under $1,000 to help them compete against cheap imports. Supporters also argue that the program helps maintain healthy agriculture by encouraging cross-pollination of crops.