After President Donald Trump’s proposed “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” budget was delivered to the Hill Tuesday, several agricultural groups spoke out against the $46.54 billion cut to agriculture subsidies over 10 years.
Here’s what some groups had to say …
“The time and place to debate farm bill programs is during the farm bill reauthorization, not the annual budget process. The farm bill represents a 5-year commitment to America’s farmers and ranchers, which Congress made in 2014. We are counting on Congress to honor that commitment, and reject cuts that would be harmful for rural America. These proposed budget cuts would hurt farmers’ ability to manage risk, grow their revenues, and farm more sustainably.
“Targeting the federal crop insurance program is extremely shortsighted. It is especially harmful during an extended period of low commodity prices. NCGA members consistently tell us that crop insurance is their most important risk management tool. This public-private partnership helps farmers manage their risk, and it saves taxpayers money in the long run by reducing reliance on ad hoc disaster assistance.
“MAP and FMD are successful programs that build global demand for U.S. farm products, and increase income and jobs in our communities. MAP and FMD create an average return on investment of $28 for every $1 spent, and account for 15 percent of all U.S. ag export revenue—making them a solid investment. At a time when the farm economy is struggling, we should be investing more in these programs, not less.
“Finally, the budget calls for streamlining conservation programs, which includes eliminating any new enrollment into the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Voluntary conservation programs such as CSP help farmers to be good environmental stewards, which benefits everyone. NCGA is committed to continuous improvements and helping our farms become even more sustainable.”
“By shredding our farm safety net, slashing critical agricultural research and conservation initiatives, and hobbling our access to foreign markets, this budget is a blueprint for how to make already difficult times in rural America even worse,” said Ron Moore, ASA president and a soybean farmer from Roseville, Ill.
The budget would cut the federal crop insurance program by $28.5 billion—or roughly 36 percent—by capping the premium subsidy and eliminating the harvest price option. The crop insurance program is widely used by soybean farmers, and the harvest price option was selected in 99.4 percent of soybean revenue insurance policies sold in 2016. The White House’s proposed budget also would cut nearly $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.
“Thirty six percent is the most extreme proposed cut to crop insurance I’ve seen in my 40 years on the farm,” Moore said. “This is a program that exists to sustain farmers who suffer catastrophic losses. Coupled with the arbitrary caps the budget would impose on premium subsidies, it’s clear that this budget was written without input from farmers who would be severely affected.”
A positive note in the budget welcomed by Moore was progress on regulatory reform and infrastructure investment. “We are encouraged by the promise of reducing burdensome regulations and permitting processes, as well as the recognition of the need for infrastructure investments, including inland waterways and ports,” he said. “This exercise is not a new one. We’re aware that Congress—not the president—passes the budget, and agriculture has rebuffed attacks on farm and food programs for years. The danger is that the extreme and ill-informed cuts in this document will embolden those in Congress who lack any understanding of how these programs combine to protect the food and farm supply chain for all Americans.”
“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. It is deeply disappointing that the President would propose such cuts, especially in the midst of a farm crisis that has family farmers and ranchers enduring a drastic, four-year slide in farm prices and a 50 percent drop in net farm income,” NFU President Roger Johnson said.
“In addition to cuts to farm and rural programs, the president’s proposal stands to worsen access to healthcare for rural residents. The proposed $800 billion cut to Medicaid would disproportionately impact rural residents who enroll in the program at a higher rate than their urban counterparts.“NFU calls on Congress to reject these budget cuts and adopt funding levels that ensure the success and vibrancy of farming communities and rural America.”
“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. At the time of passage, the 2014 farm bill was estimated to contribute $23 billion to deficit reduction over 10 years. The farm bill was the only reauthorization bill that voluntarily offered savings during the 113th Congress. It is difficult to think of another sector of the economy that has contributed so much, so consistently, over the last several decades,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall.
“The administration’s budget proposal fails to recognize agriculture’s current financial challenges or its historical contribution to deficit reduction. It would gut federal crop insurance, one of the nation’s most important farm safety-net programs. It would drastically reshape important voluntary conservation programs and negatively impact consumer confidence in critical meat and poultry inspection. This proposal would hamper the viability of plant and animal security programs at our borders and undermine the nation’s grain quality and market information systems. It would stunt rural America’s economic growth by eliminating important utility programs and other rural development programs.
“Clearly, this budget fails agriculture and rural America.”