How debt ceiling debate hurts Ag

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Debt Ceiling Negotiations Lasting Impact on Agriculture
By American Farm Bureau Federation

Johnna Miller, Director of Media Development, AFBF

Days away from the federal government defaulting on its debt, the debt ceiling negotiations continue to be the top priority of both members of Congress and the White House. American Farm Bureau’s Executive Director of Public Policy Mark Maslyn says farmers and ranchers have a major stake in the outcome of the ongoing debt ceiling negotiations. AFBF’s Michael Pettengill reports.

Pettengill: With the August 2nd deadline fast approaching, failure by Congress and the White House to either raise the debt ceiling limit or reduce the federal deficit, could result in the federal government defaulting on its loans. American Farm Bureau Executive Director of Public Policy Mark Maslyn says the situation has huge implications for America’s farmers and ranchers.

Maslyn: Like most Americans, Farm Bureau wants to see negotiations concluded successfully, that will make a meaningful deduction in our deficit and put the country back on the path of fiscal soundness. The debt ceiling debate going on in Washington today, is important to all Americans, but it is important to farmers and ranchers because they are large borrowers of capital. The success of these negotiations will have an impact on interest rates. High interest rates eat into operating capital and it will have adverse affects on our ability to farm and ranch.

Pettengill: Maslyn says farm programs are a favorite target for federal budget cuts.

Maslyn: Our concern is that we want to have enough money left when all is said and done, to write a viable farm bill, that provides an effective safety net, for America’s farm and ranch families.

Pettengill: While current proposals call for future cuts to farm programs, many farmers and ranchers fear the cuts will be disproportionate considering the amounts already given up by the agriculture sector.

Maslyn: There is a sentiment we have a given our fair share or had our share taken in earlier procedures, and that ought to count for something, as we enter into these discussions and enter into discussions next year in the farm bill.

Pettengill: We have two extra actualities with AFBF’s Executive Director of Public Policy Mark Maslyn. In the first extra actuality he explains why disproportionate cuts to agriculture alone will not have much impact on reducing the national deficit. The cut runs 21 seconds, in 3-2-1.

Maslyn: Farm bill expenditures in this country represent less than one half of one percent of the federal budget. You’re not going to balance the budget, you’re not going to resolve the debt problems by focusing on agriculture or cutting agriculture disproportionately or eliminating agricultural funding entirely. It would make a dent in the overall debt of this nation and it’s important that the public understand that.

Pettengill: In the second extra actuality Maslyn explains how the debt ceiling negotiations have forced Congress to postpone debate on a number of other important legislative issues. The cut runs 31 seconds, in 3-2-1.

Maslyn: There are a number of issues that Congress is going slow on because of the overarching discussions and negotiations on the budget deficit. The most notable are the Colombia, Panama, and Korea free trade agreements. Action has been postponed on them until after a Congress comes back from its August recess. These agreements mean jobs, they mean growth in the U.S. economy, and that is why Congress needs to move quickly to get these free trade agreements done.

Pettengill: Newsline is updated Mondays and Thursdays by 5pm eastern time. Thank you for listening.