Cuts & details of President’s Ag budget

How Does Agriculture Fare in the President’s Budget?
Johnna Miller, Director of Media Development,
& Policy Specialist Dale Moore 
American Farm Bureau Federation

Miller: The president’s budget is basically an outline for the administration’s priorities for the year ahead. It calls for about $700 million in spending cuts for the Department of Agriculture. One area of concern in the agriculture community is the cuts to the crop insurance program.

Moore: We don’t know exactly how they plan to affect that savings.We want to make sure that whatever crop insurance plan there is down at USDA for funding the crop insurance is robust and keeps focused on those risk management tools as a critical part of farmers’ risk management safety net.

Miller: American Farm Bureau Farm Policy Specialist Dale Moore says he’s also troubled by some of the cuts to conservation programs.

Moore: We are a little concerned because of the number of voluntary incentive types of programs that pretty much all farmers and ranchers utilize to enhance soil and water and wildlife conservation efforts as well as to improve the productivity of their land. So if there are cutbacks in that area we do have some concerns.

Miller: But Moore emphasizes that the president’s budget is not a done deal.

Moore: This clearly is an important part of the budget process. The president has laid out his budget on the table. There clearly is an eye toward reducing the federal deficit, getting our fiscal house in order, which lines right up with Farm Bureau policy from that standpoint. The devil is always in the details andover the coming days, weeks, months, we’re not only going to be looking at the president’s budget, but listening carefully to see how the members of Congress respond and how they start moving forward as they begin their own budget debate and how agriculture fares in that overall process.

Miller: We have two extra actualities with AFBF Farm Policy Specialist Dale Moore. In the first extra actuality he talks about the importance of the president’s budget. The cut runs 25 seconds, in 3-2-1.

Moore: As the president is required to do, he lays this budget out. We all start taking a look at it, trying to figure out what is in it that helps us, perhaps hurts us, concerns us, scares us. And certainly the folks up on Capitol Hill are going to be looking it over to see how their programs, their districts, their states are affected by what is in his proposed budget. But it is just that, his proposed budget. It’s his place marker on where his priorities are for the coming year.

Miller: In the second extra actuality Moore talks about how direct payments fared in the president’s budget. The cut runs 46 seconds, in 3-2-1.

Moore: No big surprise, but the president proposes eliminating direct payments. At our annual meeting this year our delegates voted to take direct payment support out of our farm policy, basically out of recognition that that particular program was going to be eliminated as part of the overall effort to reduce federal spending. Agriculture, it’s having some of its best run of record-setting years pretty much through the past decade. Because of that, the political support for continuing farm payments, particularly like direct payments – it’s an annual payment a producer receive year in year out – they’re starting to question why do producers get that payment if they’re having record farm income years or record export years and that’s the kind of question that our board and that our delegates have talked about as we move forward on our deep loss plan approach for the new farm bill.

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