By Vicky Boyd, Editor


On the exterior, the American public has spoken in favor of reductions in the national deficit.


In fact, they made their sentiments known loud and clear during the 2010 elections when they ousted several incumbent Democrats in favor of budget-cutting Republications.


But when you ask the public what specific projects they'd like to see cut, they have very few in mind except for foreign aide, which is less than 1 percent of the overall budget.


How that sentiment will play into the upcoming farm bill debate is yet to be seen, says Clayton Yeutter, former agriculture secretary under the senior former President George Bush.


"How high a political price will the Republicans pay in 2012?" Yeutter told attendees today at Bayer CropScience's Ag Issues Forum in Tampa. "If they make the cuts, will this affect the farm bill debates in the coming months? My view is it will."


Yeutter says he still foresees some type of safety net that will focus on risk management. These programs will deal mostly with program crops—corn, soybeans, cotton, rice and wheat, to name a few.


But it probably won't involve expanding the crop insurance program to any large degree because only five or six of the western Great Plains states really benefit from the programs, he says.


Yeutter also expects Congress to leave the sugar program pretty much intact.


Conservation and nutritional programs likely will face cuts, he says.


Food safety, depending on whether Congress funds the program, also may weigh into the 2012 farm bill debates, Yeutter says.


Among other sectors that may try to place their issues on the negotiation tables are organic supporters, locavores and small farmers.


"Do we do something specific for small farmers, if we can find a small farmer in the U.S.?" Yeutter asks.


Along the same note, he says that the bulk of farmers nationwide are family farmers, and some of them are large-scale family farmers. But there are few large corporate farming operations.