Durbin sees hard road ahead for agriculture programs

Durbin said when it comes to considering cuts, he wants "everything on the table, not just farm programs, but everything," according to the IFB. This fits in with Democratic complaints that Republicans have been trying to cut $100 billion only from discretionary non-security spending, and is not looking at a broader group of programs for cuts.

The IFB said proposed entitlement reform in the FY 2012 that Republicans are expected to introduce shortly will likely be a "big determinant" in how the 2012 farm bill is written. But based on Durbin's comments, it is clear that farm payments might end up on the chopping block, an outcome that many Democrats have called for in recent weeks as Republicans have cut other programs.

"After meeting with Sen. Durbin, it was pretty evident direct payments are going to be hard to defend going forward," the IFB said.

The current farm bill expires in mid-2012, and Congress is expected to prepare to write the next farm spending program.