Friday, May 26, 2017

Farm-program cuts draw bipartisan opposition

"With financial pressures increasing for farmers, programs to help them – and rural America in general – should not be on the chopping block, Senate Agriculture Committee members said at a hearing Thursday, Steve Davies reports for Agri-Pulse, a Washington newsletter.

President Trump’s proposed budget would cut farm programs $38 billion “and establish new restrictions on crop insurance, such as a $40,000 cap on premium subsidies," Davies notes. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., chair of the committee, “The last Farm Bill voluntarily cut spending. And, the previous crop insurance contract negotiation cut $6 billion from the program on top of a previous $6 billion cut from the 2008 Farm Bill. Ag has already given at the store.”

The committee's top Democrat, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, said the crop-insurance cut “would take away a crucial part of the farm safety net at a time when it’s needed most. The budget also calls for sharp cuts to the family safety net, gutting SNAP [food stamps] by nearly 30 percent. Proposed closings of USDA offices would reduce customer service for our agricultural producers, and make their tough jobs even harder. Elimination of specialty crop and market access programs weaken our farmers’ ability to recover from price slumps or pest and disease issues.”

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