Cuts to agriculture subsidies proposed by the Bush Administration likely would impact farmers' planting decisions if Congress approves the plan, government and industry officials said Tuesday.



Keith Collins, chief economist for the USDA, told reporters: "There will be some substitution from one crop to another as a result of some of these changes," according to Dow Jones newswires.



The USDA unveiled a plan to scale farm subsidies back by $587 million in fiscal year 2006 or by $5.7 billion over 10 years. USDA said it would achieve those savings primarily by cutting direct payments to farmers by 5 percent, setting a firm farm subsidies cap at $250,000 per producer and eliminating loopholes that currently allow that total to rise to $360,000.



Jon Doggett, a vice president with the National Corn Growers Association, said he is concerned that a lower cap on subsidies could push cotton farmers to plant corn, lowering prices.



That, Doggett said, is because cotton producers would lose a key government support program - certificates - that offer price stability to farmers. The Bush Administration proposal would end the certificate program, which can be used by most commodity producers but is relied on most heavily by cotton farmers.



John Maguire, a vice president with the National Cotton Council, said planting shifts might indeed occur as early as this year because of the uncertainty generated by the budget-cut proposals.



The National Cotton Council, in a statement opposing the payment cuts, urged Congress to reject them because they might "cause many producers to make decisions based on unclear, ill-defined prospective changes in federal legislation, rather than market signals."