Administration’s FY2018 budget request calls for deep cuts to crop insurance, other priority programs

From the National Association of Wheat Growers

On May 23, the Trump Administration released its FY2018 budget request, which makes significant cuts to several farm bill programs, including crop insurance, commodity programs, conservation programs, rural economic development and SNAP. Overall cuts to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs would total about $240 billion in mandatory spending over 10 years and it would maintain the 21 percent reduction to discretionary programs. In regards to crop insurance, the request calls for cuts up to $28.56 billion over 10 years. The proposal also calls for $5.8 billion in cuts to conservation programs over the next 10 years through the elimination of the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. This measure is expected to save more than $1 billion over 10 years by lowering the AGI cap to $500,000.

The budget request also proposes significant cuts to agricultural research programs, including to the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative. The request would also propose to close several Agriculture Research Service (ARS) facilities. These sort of proposals are shortsighted, particularly given the importance of publicly funded research for the wheat industry.

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) understands the administration is facing pressure to reduce spending and lower the national debt. However, proposing cuts to crop insurance and other key farm bill programs is not the right approach and ignores the needs of rural America. Budget proposals should support U.S. farmers and this one misses the mark. NAWG will actively work to make sure these proposals aren’t enacted by Congress.

With the release of the budget request, the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing on May 24 where USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue testified to defend the budget proposal. As would be expected, several members of the committee raised serious concerns about the proposed crop insurance cuts, and NAWG thanks those members for discussing the importance of the program. Secretary Perdue noted during the hearing that he agrees that crop insurance is important and framed the proposal as being a recommendation from the Administration to Congress for the farm bill. During the hearing, Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kans.) also noted to the secretary the importance of agriculture research, particularly given the emergence of Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus in his state of Kansas and neighboring areas.