AFBF president gives proposed agriculture budget an ‘F’

The president of the country’s largest agricultural advocacy group said the proposed budget President Trump sent to Congress fails farmers, ranchers and the nation’s rural communities.

farmersThe proposed 2018 budget includes slashing more than $228 billion to the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the next 10 years, including $38 billion from farm programs like crop insurance.

“The administration’s budget proposal fails to recognize agriculture’s current financial challenges or its historical contribution to deficit reduction,” asserted American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “The American Farm Bureau Federation and its members are concerned about the federal budget deficit; however, we also know that agriculture has done its fair share to help reduce the deficit.”

He noted that, since the early 1980s, agriculture often has been targeted to generate budget savings—from the reconciliation bills in the late ‘80s and ‘90s to 2014 Farm Bill reforms. When the 2014 Farm Bill passed it was projected to contribute $23 billion to deficit reduction over 10 years. It was the only reauthorization bill that voluntarily offered savings during that session of Congress.

“It is difficult to think of another sector of the economy that has contributed so much, so consistently, over the last several decades,” Duvall explained. “It would gut federal crop insurance, one of the nation’s most important farm safety net programs. It would drastically reshape important voluntary conservation programs and negatively impact consumer confidence in critical meat and poultry inspection.”

He added that the current proposal would hamper the viability of plant and animal security programs at U.S. borders and undermine the nation’s grain quality and market information systems. “It would stunt rural America’s economic growth by eliminating important utility programs and other rural development programs. Clearly, this budget fails agriculture and rural America.”

The president’s budget is only the first step in the annual federal budget process. Congress ultimately will write the budget and appropriations bills so AFBF will work with the House and Senate agriculture and budget committees.

Duvall said the organization will strive to “protect programs that are critical in managing risks inherent to production agriculture, and maintain programs that are vital to rural communities.”