Proposing to carve more than $4 billion out of the Agriculture Department’s budget, the administration’s 2018 spending blueprint fails to recognize agriculture’s current financial challenges or its historical contribution to deficit reduction, according to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.
“The American Farm Bureau Federation and its members are concerned about the federal budget deficit. However, we also know that agriculture has done its fair share to help reduce the deficit. Going back to the early 1980s, agriculture often has been targeted to generate budget savings, from the reconciliation bills in the late 1980s and 1990s to farm bill reforms as recently as 2014,” Duvall said in a statement.
When it was passed, the 2014 farm bill was estimated to contribute $23 billion to deficit reduction over 10 years. Notably, the farm bill was the only reauthorization measure that voluntarily offered savings during the 113th Congress.
It is difficult to think of another sector of the economy that has contributed so much, so consistently, over the last several decades.
— AFBF President Zippy Duvall
Among the budget reduction targets are several programs and services critical to farmers, ranchers and rural communities.
The proposed budget “would gut federal crop insurance, one of the nation’s most important farm safety-net programs. It would drastically reshape important voluntary conservation programs and negatively impact consumer confidence in critical meat and poultry inspection,” Duvall warned.
The proposal would also threaten the viability of plant and animal security programs at the nation’s borders, undermine grain quality and market information systems, and stunt rural America’s economic growth by eliminating important utility programs and other rural development programs.
Duvall noted that these cuts, while drastic at first glance, are even more worrisome when considered in light of the current farm economy.
“Farm income is down substantially since Congress passed the last farm bill. USDA cuts of this magnitude in the current economic cycle would be unwarranted and unwise. AFBF will work with the House and Senate Agriculture, Appropriations and Budget committees to protect programs that are critical in managing risks inherent to production agriculture, and maintain programs that are vital to rural communities,” he said.
The president is required by law to submit a budget to Congress for each fiscal year, which runs Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. However, it is congressional lawmakers who draft and ultimately enact the federal government’s budget.