Congress and Farmers Are Shocked By Proposed USDA Cuts
01:55, May 25, 2017
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"Unfortunately, this Trump administration budget reflects that they don't care much about rural communities and farmers, and they're diminishing resources and it's troubling", he said.
The budget cuts USDA staff, crop insurance, conservation programs, and food assistance and eliminates funding for some programs including the Market Access Program (MAP), Foreign Market Development (FMD) program and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program. Obama had pushed for $16 billion in cuts to crop insurance over 10 years by lowering the premium subsidy for the Harvest Price Option and reducing payments for prevented planting claims.
The White House's proposed budget also would cut almost $9 billion from Title I commodity supports, including the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, by reducing the adjusted gross income (AGI) eligibility cap from $900,000 to $500,000.
In addition, a major econometric study led by Texas A&M agricultural economists in 2016 on the effectiveness of MAP and FMD showed that eliminating these programs would result in an annual average loss of $14.7 billion in export value, which would hurt nearly every farmer in the country.
The proposed budget "would gut federal crop insurance, one of the nation's most important farm safety-net programs".
"Clearly, this budget fails agriculture and rural America", American Farm Bureau Foundation president Zippy Duvall said in a statement. The budget says agricultural conservation "is not an inherently governmental function" and calls for more private-sector funding. However, proposing cuts to crop insurance and weakening the farm bill is not the right approach.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has a message to his employees: It's time for belt tightening.
The proposed USDA budget also would bar any general signup in CRP through 2020 and target enrollment on grasslands and continuous practices, bar new enrollments in the Conservation Stewardship Program and eliminate the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, created in the 2014 farm bill. "I'm hopeful we can get past this ideology and make reasonable reforms as part of future farm bill debate but this is not a good place to start". However, we also know that agriculture has done its fair share to help reduce the deficit.
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, said she would oppose the cuts, which "would leave our farmers, families, and rural communities vulnerable in tough times".
"The current farm economy demonstrates how important these programs are", said Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation President Kevin Paap in a statement. "It would drastically reshape important voluntary conservation programs and negatively impact consumer confidence in critical meat and poultry inspection", Duvall said. "We are very concerned that the president's budget calls for privatizing conservation planning", National Association of Conservation Districts President Brent Van Dyke said. Budget proposals should support rural America and USA farmers but this current budget misses that mark. Further, the Congressional Budget Office's 2017 baseline estimates that the 2014 farm bill costs far less than projected and is going to save the federal government $100 billion.
"The president's proposed budget is an assault on the programs and personnel that provide vital services, research, and a safety net to America's family farmers, rural residents and consumers", Johnson said.
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