What is in this article?:
- Washington currently is a town with a limited focus.
- “Budget and appropriations are all we talk about in D.C.,” said John Maguire, vice president for Washington operations for the National Cotton Council, during the 54th annual meeting of Plains Cotton Growers, Inc.
- Maguire said the continuing resolution budget passed by the House of Representatives requested $61 billion in cuts from non-defense discretionary spending. “That’s only 12 percent of the U.S. budget,” he said.
Lot of newcomers
For one thing, both committees have freshmen members. Sixteen of 28 Democrat members on the last House ag committee were defeated in the last election. Of the 25 Republican members of the House ag committee, 16 are freshmen.
Ten of the Republican House ag committee members are from cotton states; 7 of the Democrat House ag committee members represent cotton constituents.
“We have a lot of education to do,” Maguire said.
The Senate has four new Cotton Belt senators, but no Democrat from a cotton state is on the Senate ag committee.
Maguire said the farm bill will focus on four topics: Equity, reform, duplication and simplicity.
Equity among crops and programs will be a key, Maguire said.
Reform typically means payment limitations and program eligibility.
Duplication efforts will attempt to streamline programs and eliminate or combine programs that overlap.
Simplicity is a critical effort to make programs easier to understand and manage. “ACRE is complicated,” Maguire said. “SURE is the most incredibly complicated program on the planet.
“The number one target,” he said, “will be direct payments. With prices where they are Congress will ask why they should make payments to farmers. So we’re talking margin instead of price. Costs have gone up along with prices. We see no proposals that will deliver the same benefits as direct payments.”