•House Republican leaders and Senate Democrats reached a compromise on a continuing budget resolution to fund the federal government.
•Republican leaders are pushing a deficit reduction agenda that includes cuts in farm spending above reductions that have already been made in farm programs.
•Farm organizations say they support deficit reduction, but not in the manner in which Republican budget leaders are pursuing.
Congressional leaders and President Obama agreed to a budget compromise that averted a shutdown of the government last weekend. The deal calls for cuts of $38 billion in federal spending for the current fiscal year.
While the immediate crisis was avoided, farm organizations remain concerned about the cuts in farm spending in the current year and proposals for additional reductions in farm program spending over the next 10 years. The latter are laid out in a budget resolution passed by Chairman Paul Ryan and the House Budget Committee earlier in April.
Over the last few days, we’ve received press releases from numerous farm organizations that said they support reducing the federal budget deficit. But each has also warned against excessive spending cuts that could damage the farm safety net.
Despite those concerns, the House Budget Committee proposals contain drastic cuts in the farm safety net that even some Republicans are calling short-sighted and over-reaching.
It’s obvious from conversations with readers in recent months that many producers supported Republican House, Senate and gubernatorial candidates in the November elections..
But some of you may be wondering if you and your candidate were on the same page. If you didn’t send your representative or senator to Congress to cut an additional 20 percent of the funding for farm programs over the next 10 years - over what’s already been taken out. Or slash $18 billion out of conservation programs or $100 billion out of nutrition programs then perhaps you need to have a conversation with your member of Congress.
Here’s what the leader of one farm organization said in a press release this week: “It must be pointed out that even before any cuts, farm program expenditures have been falling for years. It is vital that decisions to cut farm program spending be made with a recognition of the cyclical nature of our farm economy and its ties to a global economy that can be even more volatile.”
Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, went on to say, “The cost of our safety net varies by market condition. For example, even before any proposed cuts, projections indicate a downward trend in farm program spending in the 2011 fiscal year. Expenditures will be down by about 13 percent compared to the 2010 fiscal year. That is a clear sign our farm bill works as intended and costs less when commodity prices are higher.”
If you’re wondering what to say to your congressman, that might be a good place to start.