President’s FY2019 budget calls for disappointing cuts to USDA and key farm programs

From the National Association of Wheat Growers

Today, President Trump released his FY2019 budget which reduces the budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) by 16 percent from the 2017 enacted level. The proposed budget also calls for cuts to vital farm bill programs, including crop insurance and other key safety net provisions.

“The Administration’s proposed cuts to key farm bill programs are not only detrimental to wheat growers but all farmers across the country,” stated National Association of Wheat Growers’ (NAWG) president and Outlook, Mont., farmer Gordon Stoner. “The farm bill provides crucial safety net programs that growers need to ensure a safe and abundant food supply. It also provides funding for important programs in conservation, research, and trade that help keep America’s wheat industry productive and competitive on a global scale.”

The FY2019 budget would establish a $500,000 Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) limitation for crop insurance, commodity and conservation program eligibility. The proposal also calls for a reduction to the average premium discount in the crop insurance programs, cutting $22.4 billion over 10 years. Further, the budget caps underwriting gains for crop insurance companies at 12 percent which is $3 billion in cuts over 10 years.

“These cuts to the farm bill’s crop insurance programs are simply unacceptable,” continued Stoner. “These programs aren’t hand-outs, but rather they provide a risk management tool for growers who face unforeseeable disasters and allow them to farm another year. Further, the 12 percent cap on underwriting gains prevents crop insurance companies from being able to provide strong policies to growers.”

The FY2019 budget also proposes “streamlining” conservation programs—a cut of $13.042 billion over 10 years. The budget also eliminates the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Conservation programs, like these, have allowed growers to maintain healthier land and better integrate sustainable farming practices into their operations. The budget would also eliminate the Food for Progress food aid program.

“The Administration’s FY2019 budget will only hinder the growth of rural America and will hurt those farming families who are experiencing some of the worst economic hardships in decades,” argued Stoner. “Cutting funding to USDA when all commodities are experiencing low prices is unsound policy and fiscally irresponsible. The USDA and the farm bill must be fully funded to allow all of agriculture to have access to these beneficial programs.”

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