House calls for major farm bill cuts

Mar 30, 2012
by WLJ

The House Budget Committee narrowly passed a budget proposal introduced by the Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-WI. The proposal calls for $5.3 trillion in government-wide spending cuts and entitlement reforms and $2 trillion in tax reductions to shrink the deficit $3.3 trillion below President Obama’s proposed budget.

Speaking at a Capitol Hill press briefing shortly after he introduced the proposal, Ryan told reporters, “There’s about a hundred pages here of details which are food stamp reform, welfare reform, federal employee reform, agriculture reform—I can go on and on but that’s the bulk of where the savings come from.”

Ryan’s budget would re duce farm bill funding by approximately $181 billion over the next decade—$15.5 billion for commodity supports, $15.5 billion for crop insurance, $16 billion for conservation and $134 billion for nutrition assistance. The proposal notes, “Compared to an overall economy that is recovering slowly, the U.S. agriculture sector is improving dramatically.” It also states, “The record-breaking prosperity of American farmers and farm communities . . . calls for a re-examination of federal agricultural programs that spend billions each year. Taxpayers should not finance payments for a business sector that is more than capable of thriving on its own.”

In response to the Ryan budget, Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-OK, cautioned stakeholders against reading too much into the numbers and proposals, referring to them as simply suggestions. “During our process, both policy and deficit reduction targets will be developed in conjunction with Ranking Member Peterson and members of the committee as we write a fiscally responsible farm bill that ensures Americans continue to have a safe, affordable and stable food supply,” Lucas said.

However, Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Colin Peterson, D-MN, called the proposal “appalling” and said it “virtually guarantees there will be no new farm bill this year.” — WLJ