What is in this article?:
- Obama's budget proposal draws mixed reactions
- Crop insurance
- “These budget cuts highlight a reality that we must look for new solutions within the agriculture industry to ensure that farmers and ranchers are protected even as the available funds diminish. Farmers need a safety net for difficult times -- when markets collapse and when disaster strikes.”
On Monday, the Obama administration released its proposed budget for fiscal year 2013. The budget would cut $32 billion in USDA spending over a decade.
Direct payments would be eliminated under the proposal and crop insurance subsidies would be cut along with conservation programs.
Despite the cuts, "to help sustain record farm income, we will invest in research and development to improve agricultural productivity,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement. “The budget makes a 23 percent increase in funding for our premier competitive grants program to support the most worthy projects and continues support for in-house research and the land grant universities. We'll continue our efforts to combat destructive pests and disease that threaten crops and livestock.
"To encourage thriving markets for our farm products aboard, we will continue funding that helped make last year a record for agricultural exports, driving farm income and supporting 1.1 million American jobs. We'll reduce trade barriers and aggressively promote 'grown in America' products. At home, we're working to encourage the development of a bio-based economy, where what we grow and raise is used to make fuel, chemicals and consumer goods to complement our traditional production of food, feed, and fiber.”
Reactions to the White House proposals were quick in coming.
The budget, if passed, would undermine “our investment in providing a stable food supply,” said Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. "For example, President Obama’s proposal to cut crop insurance threatens the integrity of the program itself. And, he ignores other areas for savings such as streamlining or eliminating duplicative programs in conservation, or closing loopholes in nutrition spending. Nutrition spending comprises 80 percent of the agriculture baseline and there is bipartisan support in Congress to save billions by eliminating loopholes, but not one penny is cut in (Obama’s) budget.
Sentiment from the other side of the aisle, of course, was much less sharp. While “encouraged” by the removal of direct payments, Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, was not in favor of “further cuts to crop insurance, which is a critical risk management tool. I have heard loud and clear that strong, effective risk management is the number one priority of farmers and producers across the country. Farming is a high risk business and we don’t want farmers and other small businesses going under because a few days of bad weather – it jeopardizes the economy and the safety of our national food supply.”