President’s Budget Shortchanges Farm Programs for the Fourth Year in a Row
Source: National Farmers Union (NFU)
Feb 10, 2020
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump today released his proposed spending for fiscal year 2021. The $4.8 billion budget would cut both mandatory and discretionary funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other federal agencies while boosting spending on infrastructure and defense initiatives.
In a statement, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said the “hypocritical” proposal overlooks the economic difficulties in farming communities:
“As both a presidential candidate and now as president, Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed his appreciation for and dedication to American farmers. Yet year after year, his budget has failed to address the very real economic challenges facing rural communities. Farm debt and farm bankruptcies have skyrocketed, crop prices remain low, climate change is disrupting food production, and rural economies continue to lag behind their urban counterparts. There are a number of programs and agencies that can help farmers and rural residents with these difficulties – including the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Agricultural Research Service, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – but the Trump administration is looking to cut funding from all of them.
“Despite our deep frustration with this budget’s indifference to the plight of rural America, at least one of the proposed changes is warranted. For many decades, farm programs have disproportionately benefitted the largest and wealthiest farms, something that National Farmers Union has long opposed. President Trump’s budget would address this problem by lowering the adjusted gross income eligibility threshold for crop insurance and commodity programs from $900,000 to $500,000. We are pleased that this change would likely direct more support to the farmers who need it most; however, this gesture seems hypocritical following the USDA’s recent doubling of payment limitations for trade assistance payments.
“We are similarly ambivalent about the proposed expansion of infrastructure spending. Time and time again, this administration has made big promises to improve national infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, but they have yet to deliver on those promises. We hope that this year’s budget indicates that President Trump will finally invest in our roads, bridges, rails, locks and dams, water and waste systems, and rural broadband.”
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National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.
Learn more about us at NFU.org.
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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