Reuters reports ag leaders are criticizing the planned 21% cut to spending at the USDA in President Trump’s budget. This includes a reduction in some USDA statistical services and county-level staffing.
“A lot of farmers and growers rely on USDA’s statistical capabilities to make a lot of marketing and risk-management decisions and planting decisions,” said John Newton, American Farm Bureau Federation Director of Market Intelligence, in a statement to Reuters.
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says the cuts to EPA and USDA hit rural economies hard and the proposed cuts to the EPA could impact future pesticide approvals.
“Family farmers and ranchers are currently enduring the worst farm economy in well over a decade and an inadequate safety net that is hamstrung by $23 billion in budget cuts. The last thing our members need right now is more cuts to agencies and programs that provide incredibly important work, especially in the midst of the current farm crisis. These cuts and the message they send to rural America are deeply disappointing.
The President’s blueprint also provides for a $2.6 billion cut to EPA funding. This 31% drop guts the agency’s ability to provide very important environmental services and pesticide approval. It even limits the administration’s ability to rewrite or remove the unnecessary regulations that the President promised to address. Regulatory relief comes from having a system that works.”
Andrew Bahrenburg, National Young Farmers Coalition’s National Policy Director, says the budget proposal hurts the next generation of farmers.
“This budget proposal dramatically underestimates the economic urgency facing rural America. If we don’t recruit a new generation of farmers to take over for America’s aging farm population, rural economies will continue to unravel. Instead, this proposal would take us backward, and make rural life a less viable option for entrepreneurial young Americans. It’s a strange message for President Trump to send to the rural voters that helped elect him.”
Russell Redding, Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary, says the programs targeted for cuts hurt his state’s rural communities. In 2016, USDA’s Rural Business and Cooperative Service supported 73 projects in Pennsylvania. This program is set to be cut by $95 million in the new budget.
“The programs targeted for cuts or elimination in the President’s budget proposal may be considered ‘discretionary’ in Washington parlance, but the work those programs support on the ground in communities across Pennsylvania and the country are vitally important. This is not the way to put ‘America first.’ If anything, it puts our rural communities and some of our most vulnerable neighbors at a tremendous disadvantage and represents a threat to their livelihood.
USDA has been a vital partner of the commonwealth, but this budget threatens key mission areas of the department, and that could have harmful consequences to us here in Pennsylvania and to our citizens. We intend to work with our congressional delegation and others to underscore the importance of these investments in our state so that we can continue to grow our agricultural economy and our rural communities.”