Commodity News -
Thursday, 23 June 2011 07:51
D.C. - A coalition of 113 agriculture organizations, including the National
Association of Wheat Growers, wrote the three highest ranking U.S. officials
last week to express strong opposition to disproportionate cuts to agriculture
programs in the quest to reduce the country's debt load.
sent June 14 to President Barack Obama, Speaker of the House John Boehner
(R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), repeated calls made by
a broad spectrum of farm groups since the beginning of the year that acknowledge
the need to reduce federal spending while emphasizing the need for
Total agriculture-area spending, including food and nutrition
assistance programs, accounts for just over 2% of the federal budget. Farm
program spending - often the first area to be mentioned in budget cutting
discussions - accounts for less than 1/4 of 1% of the total federal budget.
Still, agriculture programs have faced a series of cuts in recent years,
most recently of $6 billion during the renegotiation of the Standard Reinsurance
Agreement between USDA and crop insurers, completed last year.
cuts continue, programs that support a stable U.S. food supply, well-managed
land and long-term agriculture research investments could be
"While our members support efforts to bring down the deficit
and debt in an orderly and comprehensive manner, we cannot in good faith support
deficit reduction efforts that target U.S. farmers and ranchers and rural
America for disproportionately large cuts to the small percentage of the
mandatory budget devoted to supporting agriculture," the letter said.
The groups writing also decried any requirement that cuts be implemented
in the coming fiscal year, before the writing of the new farm bill slated for
2012, and said any policy decisions or mandated cuts should be determined by the
Congressional committees of jurisdiction.
Members of the House attempted
to violate this regular order during this week's FY2012 agriculture
appropriations bill debate, and it has become common practice among those who
are inclined to deeply cut into the safety net to discuss cuts to farm programs
well before the five-year contract with producers laid out in the 2008 Farm Bill
Wheat groups signing onto the letter included NAWG and
NAWG-affiliated state wheat grower organizations in Idaho, Kansas, Maryland,
Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.
Wheat farmers from many of these states are facing dramatic weather challenges
this growing season, causing reduced plantings and yields throughout the middle
of the country.
The letter coincides with increased work by a bicameral
and bipartisan group chaired by Vice President Joe Biden charged with coming up
with a long-term plan for deficit reduction, which is necessary to proceed with
efforts to raise the debt ceiling. The Biden group met three times this week and
will reportedly meet three times next week as well.
The full letter from
the ag groups is at http://www.wheatworld.org/wp-content/uploads/budget-broad-ag-coalition-on-debt-deal-cuts-20110614.pdf.