White House Budget Threatens Farm Spending

The proposed budget recently released by President Barack Obama would significantly reduce agricultural spending, farm advocacy groups say. Most threatened by the spending cuts are controversial direct payment farm subsidies.

Over the past two years, congressional leaders and President Obama have made deficit reduction a major priority. The repeated fights over raising the debt ceiling were only resolved by a congressional agreement to reduce the budget by nearly $2 trillion. Foremost on the congressional chopping block was funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The White House budget further cements this commitment to agricultural spending cuts, reducing the budget by $32 billion over the next ten years and eliminating direct farm payments, a proposal that would save nearly $5 billion. In addition, the budget would reduce the available acreage of the Conservation Reserve program, reduce crop insurance subsidies by over $7 billion over the next decade, and reduce food stamp funding.

While these cuts are severe, farmers are not entirely surprised by them. The Obama administration and congressional leaders have proposed similar cuts over the past year and the congressional supercommittee, which attempted to enact sweeping budget reform last November, proposed similar cuts.

Attempting to put a positive spin on the budget slashing, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack argued that it would allow greater USDA efficiency and would space out the most painful cuts, stating, “The budget we’re proposing will give us the ability to utilize time to manage the cuts that have already been ordered over the course of the last couple of years.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer