Friday, March 17, 2017

Agriculture leaders criticize proposed budget cuts

Agriculture leaders slammed President Trump's proposed budget, which calls for 21 percent cuts to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, "saying it could take a toll on the rural communities that helped elect him last November," Karl Plume and P.J. Huffstutter report for Reuters.

"Trump has proposed slashing the USDA's discretionary budget by $4.7 billion to $17.9 billion by halting funding for rural clean water initiatives and rural business services, reducing some USDA statistical services and cutting county-level staff," reports Reuters. He "has already vowed to alter trade deals that have largely boosted farm incomes and targeted health care policies that have particularly benefited the rural poor." (Washington Post graphic: Proposed changes to USDA budget)
The American Farm Bureau Federation, the country's largest organization representing farmers, "said county-level USDA staffing cuts and reduced statistical services could hurt members," reports Reuters. John Newton, AFBF director of market intelligence, told reporters, "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."

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-Texas), told reporters, "America's farmers and ranchers are struggling, and we need to be extremely careful not to exacerbate these conditions." Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich), ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, told reporters, "I strongly oppose the Trump administration's proposed budget cuts to programs that are critical to farmers, ranchers and families in small towns across America."

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