February 26, 2009 / 3:58 PM / 11 years ago

Farm subsidy cuts to affect large farms: Vilsack

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Cuts to U.S. farm payments will be directed at farmers and ranchers with large incomes and big sales, and could affect 3 percent of farmers in the United States, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Thursday

“These are farms for the most part that receive a disproportionate amount of direct payments, and I think over a period of time, the president believes ... that those need to be adjusted,” said Vilsack, who declined to provide specific details about farm spending changes proposed in the Obama administration’s budget.

But he said providing school children with fruits, vegetables and more nutritious food in school lunch and other public nutrition programs will be a priority for the department.

“That can, at times, be a bit more expensive in the short term,” Vilsack said.

But the administration wants to curb the long-term costs of treating illnesses caused by obesity, he said, noting 36 percent of U.S. children are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight.

Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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