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Perdue defends White House budget

In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue defended the cuts in President Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget.

Perdue said Trump promised to realign government spending and that’s what he’s done.

“I believe the people knew what they were doing when they elected President Trump president,” Perdue said. “I think many believe, as I do—I just don’t think it’s moral to continue to kick a 20 trillion dollar debt down to our grandchildren, without any relief.”

The budget includes significant cuts to USDA programs and would eliminate more than 52-hundred positions throughout the agency—a 5.5 percent reduction in workforce.

“I don’t think there’s any reason to try to sugarcoat this. I’ve communicated with our team at USDA and just said, ‘Look, when times are tough, we just dig down and do more’. And that’s what we’ll do here,” he said.

However, many ag groups are not happy with the cuts in ag programs. National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson calls it “an assault on the farm safety net and rural communities”.

“It is deeply disappointing that the President would propose such cuts, especially in the midst of a farm crisis that has family farmers and ranchers enduring a drastic, four-year slide in farm prices and a 50 percent drop in net farm income,” Johnson said.

The American Soybean Association also expressed strong opposition to the budget.

“By shredding our farm safety net, slashing critical agricultural research and conservation initiatives, and hobbling our access to foreign markets, this budget is a blueprint for how to make already difficult times in rural America even worse,” ASA president Ron Moore said in a statement.

AUDIO: Excerpts from a USDA media briefing with Sonny Perdue and acting USDA deputy secretary Mike Young

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