Agriculture Committee Members have asked President Obama not to cut funding for essential programs. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) is leading an effort to counter House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposal to slash the agriculture budget by 48 billion dollars over the next decade. A letter sent to President Obama on May 19th signed by Stabenow and 9 other Democratic Members of the Ag. Committee, states that “Unreasonable cuts to the farm bill budget would… seriously jeopardize our ability to craft a balanced new farm bill meeting critical national priorities.”
As the letter points out, Ryan’s proposed budget would make substantial cuts to conservation programs, support for local and regional agriculture, incentives for rural job creation. The context for the letter is an ongoing battle over the federal budget between Democrats and Republicans. The farm bill represents approximately 2% of the federal budget, and 65% of it is money for nutrition and food stamp programs. Approximately 12% is allocated to commodity support programs, 11% to farm insurance, and 10% to conservation programs. The remaining 2% of the farm bill, which represents 0.04% of the includes all the research programs, beginning farmer programs, specialty crop programs, and rural development programs that are offered by USDA.
Congressman Ryan is proposing significant cuts to that 0.04%, as well as to other sections of farm bill programs, ostensibly, as a way to reign in the federal budget deficit. But it doesn’t take a math major to recognize that cutting into o.o4% of ones budget will not do much in the way of reducing budget deficits. If I was lucky enough to make $100,000 per year, I hope I’d be intelligent enough to recognize that the spending $300 instead of $400 on anything would be unlikely to make a significant dent in my debt/deficit problems. Yet the Congressional Budget Committee seems incapable of doing that math. While recognizing that cutting the federal budget deficit is important, I for one hope that the Ag. Committee letter helps to bring that message home to the Executive Branch of our government. You can help too. Please call or write your representative (you can find their contact info at: http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml).