This week the White House Office of Management and Budget released President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2020 Budget: “A Budget for a Better America: Promises Kept. Taxpayers First.” Although the budget proposal had major cuts to crop insurance and the SNAP program, there is no chance of it passing through the House and Senate ag committees. However, they will likely be used as negotiation points down the road.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said, “Our economy is booming, and unemployment is the lowest it’s been in decades. While the agriculture community still faces challenges, the Trump economy is creating new opportunities for all Americans to thrive,” said Secretary Perdue. “President Trump’s budget is fiscally conservative and lays out a vision for an accountable federal government that cuts spending. With our national debt soaring to over $22 trillion, we can no longer kick the can down the road.
Perdue continued, “The time to act is now and USDA will actively do its part in reducing federal spending. We are stewards of other people’s money and must be diligent in spending it more carefully than we would our own when it comes to delivering our programs. At the same time, we will maintain a safety net for farmers, ranchers, foresters, producers, and people who need assistance in feeding their families.”
House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member K. Michael Conaway commended the actions for the military but also stood up for agriculture. “I commend President Trump for proposing a budget that prioritizes our military and the safety of our nation after devastating cuts under the Obama Administration. It’s critical that we provide our service members with the resources and support they need to successfully execute their missions, and the president’s budget does just that.
“On agriculture, as the president knows, the farm safety net accounts for less than a quarter of one percent-a rounding error by Washington standards. So when the chips are down we must keep our promise to farmers and ranchers and rural America made under the five-year farm bill, and I fully expect the president to be onboard.
As many in politics showed support towards some parts of the budget proposal, many ag groups across the country were not happy with the proposed cuts to USDA and what it would mean for farmers and ranchers.
National Association of Wheat Growers President and Lavon, Texas, wheat farmer Ben Scholz said, “While NAWG continues to review the budget proposal in more detail, we do see that it proposes drastic cuts to some key programs for farmers. Congress just passed a farm bill by historical margins from both sides of the aisle which rejected many of these misguided cuts to agriculture that are proposed in the President’s budget request.
“The Administration’s 2020 proposal will make crop insurance policies more expensive for farmers when input costs already remain high and commodity prices are low. This additional cost could result in many growers not having insurance and may make it difficult for them to stay in business. NAWG will continue to impress upon Congress the difficult economic conditions in wheat country and thus why these programs shouldn’t be cut through the budget and appropriations process.”
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said the proposal continues the neglect for the welfare of farm families across the United States. “There is a very clear disconnect between President Trump’s priorities and the economic realities facing family farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. Despite the rapid decline in the farm economy, additional damages from self-inflicted trade disruptions, increasing demand for credit, overloaded farm hotlines, and deteriorating infrastructure in rural communities, the White House today called for significant cuts to the one department tasked with serving farm families, rural residents and those struggling with food insecurity.”
“Passing the 2018 Farm Bill was an important, bipartisan accomplishment. Rather than turning right around and proposing cuts to farm programs, the President should be working to build on that success by providing needed additional support for family farmers and ranchers.
“For three years now, President Trump has been calling for cuts to important programs within USDA. Yet for the third straight year, a majority of American farmers and ranchers are expected to lose money farming. Major relief is needed to weather these tough times in agriculture. It’s time the President’s policy proposals and rhetoric acknowledge the financial pain in farm country.”