What is in this article?:
- Overall, the Obama budget proposed cutting $32 billion over 10 years by eliminating direct payments, reducing crop insurance spending and “better targeting conservation spending.”
- With regards to direct payments, the administration said the fixed, regular payments are not needed due to a strong farm economy and concerns that direct payments are capitalized into land values.
- The administration’s budget proposed to “streamline” crop insurance, largely through cutting more than $10 billion from administrative costs over 10 years.
The Obama Administration budget proposed funding as authorized for the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, which are key cooperator cost-share programs used by the wheat industry and other agricultural groups for marketing programs overseas.
Though not agriculture-specific, the Administration budget included some $50 billion in proposed spending on transportation infrastructure.
The budget also noted USDA plans to save $60 million in FY2013 by consolidating and closing offices and various administrative functions.
Responses to the budget by agriculture leaders were reflective of the focus on farm bill timelines and of partisan politics.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), whose panel held their first farm bill hearing of the year this week, said in a statement that the budget proposal “reinforces the need for Congress to pass a strong, fiscally responsible farm bill immediately this year, to provide farmers with the certainty they need to continue being successful.”
She referenced the $23 billion cut proposal she and colleagues came up with during the super committee process last fall, saying she does not agree with proposed crop insurance cuts but was “encouraged” to see the direct payment cut proposal.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) was more pointed, saying in a statement, “[T]his proposal shows a lack of perspective and understanding in how agriculture can realistically contribute [to deficit reduction].”
He said the proposed crop insurance cuts “[threaten] the integrity of the program itself” while ignoring efficiencies that could be found in conservation or nutrition spending.
The House Appropriations Committee’s agriculture subcommittee has a hearing on the budget proposal scheduled for Friday, Feb. 17, at 10 a.m. Various USDA officials, including Secretary Tom Vilsack, are planned witnesses.
The full budget proposal is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget.