Several national farm groups joined together to send a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in opposition to recently proposed cuts to farm programs. The groups believe the farm program cuts outlined in the American Family Economic Protection Act advanced by Senate Democrats to avoid sequestration are disproportionate. The proposal would cut 27-billion dollars from agriculture spending – with all of that savings coming from commodity programs. The letter states the groups are very concerned that agriculture is the only non-defense budget sector being cut while other sectors are untouched. They also voice concern with the idea of taking all of the budget savings from just one section of the bill. The groups believe the proposed legislation seriously undermines efforts to advance much needed reforms to meet the long-term risk management needs of America’s family farms.
According to the letter – the prospect of multi-year crop disasters coupled with projections of sharp declines in commodity prices over the next few years are widely acknowledged as serious threats to the stability of farm income. With an appropriate level of resources – the groups state more efficient and market oriented risk management tools can better address the gaps in protection not covered by crop insurance. But inadequate funding to restructure the farm bill commodity title – they continue – will almost certainly eliminate options to reform the farm safety net in a long-term fiscally responsible manner.
Additionally – the letter cites concern with the origin of the proposed cuts. They note that the farm program cuts were proposed by Senate Budget Committee leaders rather than Senate Agriculture Committee leaders. The farm groups say decisions on which programs to cut and which to increase are far better made by the Ag Committee through thoughtful deliberations on the needs of farmers and ranchers. The groups highlight agriculture’s willingness to accept its fair share of cuts to help reduce the nation’s unsustainable deficits – pointing to the billions in savings in the farm bill approved by the Senate last year and in the legislation adopted by the House Ag Committee. While they say the reductions in the American Family Economic Protection Act are in the same ballpark – they note the farm bill proposals spread the pain among various titles instead of requiring all of it be shouldered by just one title.
The American Farm Bureau Federation, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and American Soybean Association were among the groups that signed the letter.
Source: NAFB News Service