President's Budget Proposals Would Hurt Rural AmericaTue, 11 Feb 2020 10:53:13 CST
Details on President Trump’s 2021 budget were released yesterday. Anna Johnson, policy manager with the Center for Rural Affairs, says this administration continues to put forth proposals that undercut rural communities.
The budget makes cuts to conservation programs, including to the Conservation Stewardship Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and authorized by the farm bill.
“We strongly oppose the President’s proposal to eliminate funding for the Conservation Stewardship Program,” Johnson said. “This program offers invaluable support for farmers and ranchers to build on their existing conservation efforts. These cuts would block an important path that farmers and ranchers rely on to improve their soil health and water quality.”
In addition, the administration proposes to eliminate nearly every program under the Rural Business and Cooperative Service, including the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP).
“We are extremely disappointed, as rural business owners do not always have access to the same financing as their counterparts in suburban and urban areas,” Johnson said. “As rural banks close and small business loans are few and far between, rural entrepreneurs can benefit greatly from Rural Business and Cooperative Service programs such as RMAP.”
Rural families are also affected with Trump’s budget proposal, which puts further restraints upon SNAP recipients, such as limiting their ability to access fresh and culturally-appropriate food in lieu of Harvest Food boxes.
“This approach to food assistance does little to keep families from the edge of poverty, workers in the workforce, elders in their homes, and children with the nourishment they need to be successful in school,” said Jordan Rasmussen, assistant policy director with the Center for Rural Affairs. “This policy keeps dollars away from local grocers and the farmers and ranchers who work to feed this country.”
Finally, the proposal states a plan to close loopholes on payment limits. The Center for Rural Affairs has advocated for commodity reforms and strong payment limits for many years to ensure a level playing field for small and mid-size farms and ranches.
“The administration has the authority to enact strong ‘actively engaged’ restrictions on commodity program payments,” Johnson said. “We urge the administration to take action to tighten loopholes that allow some operations to receive payments over $125,000 per producer and $250,000 for married producers.”
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