AFR Returns from Washington with Renewed Confidence in Lawmakers' Ability to Protect Ag BudgetFri, 29 Sep 2017 12:16:45 CDT
This past weekend, the Oklahoma State 4-H Program hosted the first of its new statewide competition to be held annually at the State Fair of Oklahoma, the 4-H Cupcake Wars competition. Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn had the honor to serve as one of the contest’s judges, alongside Steve Thompson, director of government relations for American Farmers & Ranchers. With AFR leaders and members having just returned from a recent visit to Washington, DC to speak with Oklahoma’s legislative delegation and other government officials, Horn took the opportunity to debrief Thompson on their meetings during their trip. You can listen to their complete conversation, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“We covered a variety of concerns we have with things you read about in the paper,” he said. “Honestly, though, the biggest topic everywhere we went seemed to be the case that it’s all about money.”
Two items in particular, Thompson says. One, being the President’s budget proposal for USDA’s program funding, which its drastic cuts he found “quite frightening.” The other being next year’s Farm Bill.
“We hope we can get a full reauthorization and full funding,” Thompson said soberly, hinting to the realization that budgets are being tightly reined in. “But really, some of the news on that front was pretty depressing. Most of the members and staff felt like the funds would be quite limited if we were able to make any progress there at all.”
Still, Thompson and the AFR delegation adamantly encouraged those they spoke to, to find a way to make things work, insisting that constituents back home depend on Farm Bill programs to sustain their businesses.
A major concern held by AFR, is that with recent hurricane damage striking some of our coastal states, that emergency funding may be stripped from existing ag appropriations.
“There’s only so many ways you can stretch a dollar and we definitely want Congress and USDA to help out the folks along the coastal areas because the tornadoes and other things - we understand what that’s like,” Thompson said. “But, we’re also worried about where that money might come from.”
It was in a meeting with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue that this issue came up, and Thompson says the Secretary “said all the right things” to assure that those producers hit by hurricanes would be taken care of - but that those emergency funds were not expected to come out of USDA’s budget or appropriations currently allocated for Farm Bill programs.
Hear more about AFR’s trip to Washington, DC, including their progress made on mitigating the Electronic Logging Device mandate’s impact on ag and commercial trucking, with Horn and Thompson, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below.
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