Trump’s new budget: Ag on the chopping block


By Ryan McCrimmon, POLITICO



With help from Eric Wolff


President Donald Trump today is set to unveil his fiscal 2021 budget request, a tax and spending blueprint that once again calls for slashing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and replacing some benefits with so-called Harvest Boxes. Trump also wants to cut the Agriculture Department’s budget by 8 percent and chop crop insurance, conservation and other farm programs…


TRUMP’S BUDGET PLAN LANDS TODAY: The president in the next few hours will roll out the final budget request of his first term — and like his previous proposals (and virtually all presidential budgets), the bulk of Trump’s fiscal 2021 spending plans are likely headed straight for congressional shredders.


Among the ideas that lawmakers are likely to reject are the administration’s calls for targeting SNAP, Medicaid and other safety net programs. That’s a key piece of Trump’s proposal to lower federal spending by $4.4 trillion over the next decade, as Pro Budget’s Caitlin Emma and Jennifer Scholtes report.


As for the Agriculture Department, Trump would trim USDA’s discretionary budget by more than 8 percent from current levels — from $23.8 billion this year to $21.8 billion in fiscal 2021, according to budget documents obtained by POLITICO.


The blueprint also would cut $57.7 billion in mandatory agricultural spending by 2030, like lowering crop insurance subsidies, tightening eligibility for farm payments and gashing conservation programs — similar to Trump’s previous budget requests.


Backtracking on the budget deal: Congress last summer forged an agreement to spend $634.5 billion on non-defense programs in fiscal 2021, which begins Oct. 1, among other compromises. Trump is proposing to rip up that accord and limit domestic spending to $590 billion. That’s undoubtedly a dealbreaker for Democrats.


Harvest boxes are back… again: The White House will re-up its call for replacing some SNAP benefits with a monthly “harvest box” of nonperishable foods like peanut butter and canned fruit — an idea widely panned by anti-hunger advocates and repeatedly rejected by lawmakers.


An administration official said the change would give states more room to innovate and deliver resources to recipients’ homes more quickly. The official suggested that because there’s demand among high-income consumers for similar meal-kit-delivery services (think Blue Apron), it would also work for lower-income families.


The push for paring SNAP benefits comes as USDA is steaming ahead with its own regulatory changes that would result in lowering spending and participation in the program. A rule set to take effect in April would crack down on states’ ability to waive work requirements for certain SNAP recipients, booting nearly 700,000 people from the program, by USDA’s estimate.


Stay tuned: We’ll have all the details on Trump’s budget request for rural development, food safety, farm programs and much more throughout the day. So go ahead and get the extra large coffee this a.m.




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