President’s Budget Puts Agriculture Back on the Chopping Block, Facing $2 Billion in cut servicesMon, 11 Mar 2019 17:01:40 CDT
Seemingly unphased by Congress’ resounding rejection of his previously proposed budget cuts to agriculture spending, today the President recommended $2.2 billion (a roughly ten percent cut compared to FY 2019 enacted levels) in cuts to federal food and farm programs as part of his FY 2020 budget proposal. Although the President’s “skinny budget” is historically light on details, there are a few specifics of note:
- Slashes funding for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, USDA’s only farmer-driven agriculture research program, in half.
- Cuts funding for the Food Safety Outreach Program in half, just as the first wave of Food Safety Modernization Act inspections are beginning for the nation’s produce farmers.
- Eliminates the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program.
- Cuts funding for Conservation Technical Assistance by $71 million (ten percent).
- Recommends a $75 million increase for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) compared to FY 2019, and an additional $100 million to address aging research infrastructure.
- Proposes $25 million will be needed to relocate the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture; a plan widely opposed by food and farm groups, including the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC).
- Reintroduces the Harvest Box proposal, which was widely criticized by anti-hunger and food access organizations when it was first floated in the President’s FY 2019 budget.
The proposal also makes several recommendations that would require policy changes and/or affect farm bill mandatory spending, including:
- Eliminates the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), America’s only comprehensive working lands conservation program, and makes cuts to mandatory farm bill funding for other conservation programs.
- Cuts $17 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
- Reforms to federal crop insurance and commodity programs, including: reduction of the average premium subsidy for crop insurance from 62 percent to 48 percent; limiting commodity, conservation, and crop insurance subsidies to those producers that have an Adjusted Gross Income of $500,000 or less; capping underwriting gains at 12 percent; tightening commodity payment limits, including eliminating the separate payment limit for peanut producers and limiting eligibility for commodity subsidies to one manager per farm.
“While the budget released today doesn’t give us all the details on the President’s priorities for FY 2020, the $2.2 billion in cuts targeted to agriculture and food programs sends a clear message that America’s farmers and rural communities don’t make the list” said NSAC Senior Policy Specialist Wes King.
“The 2018 Farm Bill made historic investments in key initiatives like support for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, organic research, and local/regional food systems, and that is the path on which we need to keep moving in FY 2020. Implementation of the farm bill’s programs – including new programs like the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) and long-standing programs like SARE and CSP – need adequate funding to do the work mandated by Congress. We ask that Congress not turn their backs on the promises of the 2018 Farm Bill, and that they instead build upon the bill’s pledged investments."
"Although we support the President’s aims to increase agriculture research funding and make long-overdue reforms to federal crop insurance and commodity programs, we reject his proposal to cut billions in vital USDA programs and services that support our nation’s farmers and rural communities, and urge Congress to do the same.”
Source: National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
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