Sequester Cuts Loom

With only a few days left for Congress to reach a budget agreement, it appears all but certain that sequester cuts will go into effect on March 1, potentially threatening the livelihoods of farmers across the country.

The sequestration agreement was reached in 2011 as part of a bipartisan debt ceiling negotiation. In order to increase the debt ceiling and avoid a government default, Congress and the president agreed to $1 trillion in spending cuts. If Congress failed to reduce spending, across the board spending cuts would go into effect.

The idea behind the sequester cuts was to make them so unpalatable to the Republicans and the Democrats that both parties would be forced to reach a budget deal.

True to form, however, Congress failed to reach an agreement, with both Democrats and Republicans hoping that the other party will be blamed for the looming cuts.

While the sequester cuts will not affect the Food Stamp Program or money already promised to farmers, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is warning farmers to brace for some unpleasant news next week. The most immediate impact of the cuts would be mandated furloughs for US Department of Agriculture employees, meaning fewer available services for farmers and less support from the Farm Service Agency.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer