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Farm groups upset over proposed budget cuts

Photo by Ben Nuelle

We all want a smaller federal budget until it comes to cutting our programs. America’s two biggest general farm groups are not happy with what they’ve seen so far of President Trump’s proposed fiscal 2018 budget for the Department of Agriculture.

The American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union argue it’s the wrong time with the worst farm economy in over a decade and big cuts in previous farm bills, to whack one-fifth of USDA’s discretionary budget, or almost $5 million dollars for everything from food safety and rural development to conservation, research and overseas food aid.

Crop subsidies and food stamps are mandatory spending and would not be affected by the president’s proposed budget.

American Farm Bureau budget adviser RJ Karney argues Congress, not the president, writes the budget and approves spending. His prediction on Trump’s USDA cut.

“That’s something I don’t see congress implementing. The 21 percent is the third highest cut in the proposal itself.”

NFU President Roger Johnson recorded this statement.

“These cuts they send to rural America are deeply disappointing. This huge cut to discretionary spending will put rural development, food safety, conservation, and research projects on the chopping block.”

A House Agriculture panel hearing this week highlighted the importance of that research to boosting farm productivity and bottom-lines.

AFBF’s Karney says Farm Bureau and 11 other farm groups just wrote both House and Senate budget and appropriations panels, urging against farm bill spending cuts, and even arguing for more spending.

The president also proposes cutting staff by an ‘unspecified number’ at various service centers, possibly including FSA and Extension Service offices, and rural development centers.  The president’s budget proposal for USDA also drew criticism from Congress.