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House Ag leaders oppose USDA cuts in Trump budget

The chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture committee, Mike Conaway of Texas, says he’s concerned that President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the Department of Agriculture “could hamper some vital work of the Department.”

The ranking member, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, says in a statement that President Trump’s budget proposal that includes a 21% cut to the USDA’s budget shows “a lack of understanding of farm programs and their impact on rural America.”  Peterson says water and wastewater loan grant programs are the only ways for small rural communities to update their water systems – and in the 2018 Budget Request, are “wrongly portrayed” as being duplicate programs.

Peterson says understaffed county offices would be forced to take even more cuts. But, Peterson says, the budget “will be ignored, as it should be.” And he invites the administration to spend more time in rural America to understand it – and once an Ag Secretary in place – he says the value of USDA programs and services will be explained.

Conaway’s statement further states: “I think it is very important to remember that net farm income is down 50 percent from where it stood just four years ago. America’s farmers and ranchers are struggling, and we need to be extremely careful not to exacerbate these conditions. In fact, we need to do all we can to be there to help our farmers and ranchers. The work they do is critical. A well fed world is a safer world.   “I think it is also important to point out that the Agriculture Committees put together a farm bill in 2014 that saved more than $100 billion according to latest estimates. That’s more than four times the savings we had pledged. Agriculture has done more than its fair share. As we in Congress get ready to write the budget, we will certainly pay close attention to the President’s recommendations, many of which I suspect will be incorporated into the budget. But, we will also have ideas on what the budget should look like and our priorities will also be taken into account. The bottom line is this is the start of a longer, larger process. It is a proposal, not THE budget.”

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