Budget Battle Agitating Ag
President Donald Trump has made waves with many groups when it comes to health care reform, immigration policy, and proposed tax cuts. However, when the administration announced its proposed federal budget, it displeased several members of the agricultural community.
At issue are the President’s call to make significant cuts to the 2018 Farm Bill and risk management programs many grower-customers have relied on to stay in business during the commodity price down cycle the marketplace currently finds itself in.
“[We] understand the administration is facing pressure to reduce spending and lower the national debt,” said David Schemm, President of the National Association of Wheat Growers. “However, proposing significant restrictions on crop insurance, commodity, conservation, trade, nutrition, and economic development programs is short-sighted and ignores the needs of rural America.”
In particular, the proposed budget would cut the federal crop insurance program by $28.5 billion – roughly 36% – by capping the premium subsidy and eliminating the harvest price option. Since these programs are widely used by soybean growers, the American Soybean Association (ASA) also went on record against the budget. “By shredding our farm safety net, slashing critical agricultural research and conservation initiatives, and hobbling our access to foreign markets, this budget is a blueprint for how to make already difficult times in rural American even worse,” said ASA President Ron Moore.
However, it seems as if these proposals will be altered. Two days after the budget was released, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), Chair of the Senate Agricultural Committee, spoke out against funding these cuts as the panel prepared to draft the 2018 Farm Bill. In addition, the top Democrat on the panel, Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), was also critical of the proposed cuts. “The proposal cuts $231 billion from farm bill programs, which would make a five-year farm bill virtually impossible to pass,” said Stabenow.
So with the battle lines now being clearly drawn, the agricultural community can probably expect a lengthy fight as the 2018 Farm Bill takes shape.