May 24, 2017Industry reactions emerge regarding President Trump’s ag budget proposals
Agricultural organizations are reacting to this week’s U.S. budget proposals outlined by the Trump administration.
Reports indicated the budget proposes an almost 21 percent cut to the USDA, the third-largest percentage cut proposed for any agency, behind the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department. It would cut crop insurance – which pays farmers for losses due to extreme weather, or compensates farmers for loss if prices are higher than guaranteed at the time of harvest – by 36 percent. And it proposes to “streamline” conservation programs, while eliminating the rural development program aimed at bringing infrastructure, technology, and utilities to rural communities.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue issued the following statement on the proposed FY 2018 budget:
“President Trump promised he would realign government spending, attempt to eliminate duplication or redundancy, and see that all government agencies are efficiently delivering services to the taxpayers of America. And that’s exactly what we are going to do at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“Having been the governor of Georgia from 2003 to 2011 – not during the best economic times – we did what it took to get the job done, just like the people involved in every aspect of American agriculture do every single day. While the President’s budget fully funds nutrition programs, wildland fire suppression and food safety, and includes several new initiatives and increases for Rural Development, whatever form the final budget takes, it is my job as Secretary of Agriculture to manage and implement that plan, while still fulfilling the core mission of USDA,” said Secretary Perdue.
“Proposing to carve more than $4 billion out of the Agriculture Department’s budget, the administration’s 2018 spending blueprint fails to recognize agriculture’s current financial challenges or its historical contribution to deficit reduction,” according to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.
“The American Farm Bureau Federation and its members are concerned about the federal budget deficit. However, we also know that agriculture has done its fair share to help reduce the deficit. Going back to the early 1980s, agriculture often has been targeted to generate budget savings, from the reconciliation bills in the late 1980s and 1990s to farm bill reforms as recently as 2014,” Duvall said in a statement.
When it was passed, the 2014 farm bill was estimated to contribute $23 billion to deficit reduction over 10 years. Notably, the farm bill was the only reauthorization measure that voluntarily offered savings during the 113th Congress.
Duvall noted that these cuts, while drastic at first glance, are even more worrisome when considered in light of the current farm economy.
“Farm income is down substantially since Congress passed the last farm bill. USDA cuts of this magnitude in the current economic cycle would be unwarranted and unwise. AFBF will work with the House and Senate Agriculture, Appropriations and Budget committees to protect programs that are critical in managing risks inherent to production agriculture, and maintain programs that are vital to rural communities,” he said.
The president is required by law to submit a budget to Congress for each fiscal year, which runs Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. However, it is congressional lawmakers who draft and ultimately enact the federal government’s budget, Duvall noted.
Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance reacts
Regarding the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Submission to Congress, the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance released the following statement:
“We are very disappointed to see the President’s budget, released yesterday, call for draconian cuts, or even total elimination of programs that are important to the specialty crop sector. Eliminating programs that are critical to developing domestic and international markets for specialty crops, such as the Specialty Crop Block Grant program and the Market Access Program, seems to indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of what policies are needed to help specialty crop providers create their own success. These programs are investments that return far more value to the economy, job market, and agriculture sector than their costs. We will work vigorously with our industry partners to make sure the Administration understands the challenges our industry faces so that we may work together to develop policies that help, not hurt, America’s specialty crop producers.”
The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance is a national coalition of more than 120 organizations representing growers of fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, nursery plants and other products. The alliance was established to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crop agriculture and improve the health of Americans by broadening the scope of U.S. agricultural public policy.