When Congress passed the 2014 farm bill, it was estimated to cut the deficit by $23 billion over 10 years. The proposal also would cut the USDA workforce by 5,263 positions, or 5.5 percent overall.
This is a developing story and will be updated when full details of the revised budget become available on whitehouse.gov and after U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issues a statement at 12:15 CST today. However, we also know that agriculture has done its fair share to help reduce the deficit.
Ag groups and Congressional lawmakers warned the budget would put rural communities at risk, citing the need to protect the farm safety net as producers face a 50 percent decline in farm revenue since 2013.
"Clearly, this budget fails agriculture and rural America", Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Foundation, said in a statement. But his proposed budget, released on Tuesday, proposes deep cuts to crucial Department of Agriculture programs that many rural residents, and farmers, depend on. "Such cuts would leave farmers, ranchers, and consumers without an effective safety net and would make passing a new farm bill nearly certainly impossible".
"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. Yet, the Administration's budget proposal targets the primary tool farmers use to handle these risks".
In a conference call Tuesday, Acting Deputy Secretary and Budget Officer, Micheal Young gave a run down of the budget and what cuts would be made.
Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN) said in a statement that "this budget is going nowhere on Capitol Hill but it is still a statement of priorities and should be of concern to all rural Americans." Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who serves with Hoeven on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, in a statement. We're aware that Congress-not the president-passes the budget, and agriculture has rebuffed attacks on farm and food programs for years. There is no income means testing for crop insurance. It would limit insurance premium subsidies to $40,000.
Ironically, this is being proposed at a time when possibly half of IL farmers will have insurance claims because of flooding, replanting and abandoned acreage.
Meat packers, which are required to have a USDA inspector present at all times, would be charged $5.9 billion over 10 years to support that requirement. These cuts and other proposed cuts to the farm safety net would be devastating to wheat farmers who are already facing severely challenging economic conditions. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) called it "harsh and short-sighted".
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.
Although the $16.2 billion in cuts is proposed, it should be noted that Congress rejected a $3 billion cut in crop insurance in 2015. And it proposes to "streamline" conservation programs, while eliminating the rural development program aimed at bringing infrastructure, technology, and utilities to rural communities.
"We fear that these actions represent a lack of understanding of rural voters' struggles", said Anna Johnson, a policy associate with the Lyons-based Center for Rural Affairs.