Farmers Who Backed Bush Upset With Budget

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Some farmers from battleground election states who campaigned and voted for President Bush say they are not happy about proposed cuts in federal farm subsidies and other agriculture programs.

"We wouldn't call it a double-cross or anything like that, but I don't think this is going to sit real well," said Harold Bateson, whose family's grain farm covers 2,300 acres in northwest Ohio near Bowling Green.

The president has proposed an across-the-board cut of 5 percent for all farm payments and a reduction in the cap on individual subsidies to $250,000. The cuts would total $2.5 billion — more than reductions in health, housing and law enforcement.

Some farmers say they understand the need to balance the budget, but believe they have been burdened with an unfair portion of the budget reductions compared to other programs.

"It's kind of a slap in the face," said Neil Clark, an Ohio grain farmer who worked to gather support among farmers for Bush's campaign in Hancock County.

In Ohio and other key election states, conservatives in small towns and farm communities went to the polls for Bush. In rural Ohio, the vote helped negate Democrat John Kerry's advantage in the state's big cities.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has defended the cuts in government subsidies, saying most of the money was going to only a handful of large agribusiness corporations, rather than small family farms.

And not all farmers are angry with Bush over the proposed cuts.

Richard Clemens, a cattle farmer from Marshall, Mo., who volunteered with the Bush campaign, agreed that farm families are not getting big government payouts anyway.

Despite the proposal, Clemens said he does not expect the president to suffer much political backlash in the farm community.

"Sometimes these huge farm payments have given agriculture more of a black eye than they've helped us," he said.