HOUSE PANEL REJECTS CHAIRMAN'S PLAN FOR DEEP CUTS IN US FARM PROGRAM

HOUSE PANEL REJECTS CHAIRMAN'S PLAN FOR DEEP CUTS IN US FARM PROGRAM

By a vote of 25-22, the House Agriculture Committee rejected a plan sponsored by its chairman for cutting U.S. farm programs by $13.4 billion over the next seven years. The 25 votes in opposition to the plan included five Republicans.

After the vote, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R- Kan., quickly recessed the panel to consult with other House members and possibly party leaders on a subsequent course of action.Rep. Roberts's plan for cutting farm programs is supported by House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., and House Majority Leader Richard Armey, R- Texas.

The rejection of the Roberts plan opens up the possibility the House Budget Committee, and not the farm panel, will decide on the substance of the program cuts. Under such a scenario, the budget committee could simply adopt Rep. Roberts' proposal, but this is as yet uncertain.

Rep. Roberts's plan has been hailed by Republican leaders as providing ''bold" reform for making farm programs more market-oriented. In general, Rep. Roberts has argued that farm programs must be substantially reformed to gain approval in the House this year.

Earlier in the day, the farm panel also rejected a proposal that achieved the same amount of savings as the Roberts plan, but left the basic structure of farm programs largely intact.

At this point, it remains unclear how the current standoff between lawmakers who prefer a more conventional approach to farm programs and those pushing for more reform will be resolved.