Senior Dem fears 'supercommittee' cuts to farm programs

Peterson said his understanding is that the supercommittee will decide on a set of numbers that each committee has to work with, and then the committees will make recommendations on how best to meet that target. "That's as much as I know about the process, and that may or may not be right," he said.

Peterson said he is hopeful that Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) or Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) can be appointed to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to represent agricultural interests. He added that he is "pretty well-resigned" to the idea that House members of the committee will have minimal connection to agriculture.

Under the debt-ceiling agreement passed last week, members of the supercommittee must be named by Aug. 16. If they don't reach an agreement by the end of the year, automatic spending cuts would be made.

Peterson said failure to reach a deal might be best for agriculture, since it could spread cuts more equally across a range of programs.