The latest budget proposal released by President Barack Obama contains major spending cuts to the farm sector. Overall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will see a decrease of more than $30 billion over the next decade, including the elimination of direct farm payments, a move that could save $5 billion.
Most farmers aren’t particularly shocked by the proposal. Last November’s supercommittee meeting outlined similar spending cuts as a way to reduce nearly $2 trillion from the federal budget. Those proposed cuts were also part of an ongoing series of funding reductions the USDA has experienced since the beginning of 2011.
Despite the lack of surprise, farmers and rural lawmakers have not warmly received the budget. In particular, many farm advocates are criticizing the proposed cuts to crop insurance programs. Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, recently stated, “I am encouraged the president agrees that direct payments are an indefensible program of the past, but do not agree with further cuts to crop insurance, which is a critical risk management tool.”
The House Agriculture Chair Frank Lucas reiterated Stabenow’s comments, stating, “This proposal shows a lack of perspective and understanding in how agriculture can realistically contribute.”
Other politicians were more vehement in their criticism. Iowa Representative Steve King predicted that the budget would fail in the Senate and hoped that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would bring it to the floor so it could be voted down.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer