Soybean farmers express concerns about disproportionate cuts to agriculture

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By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, March 10 - Soybean farmers understand the need to address deficit spending, but are concerned that  Congress may make “disproportionate and devastating cuts to key agriculture-related programs” as part of efforts to write a new Continuing Resolution for FY-2011. That's according to a letter sent to members of the House and Senate Appropriations and Budget Committees by the American Soybean Association this week.

ASA is concerned with the disproportionate cuts that HR 1 would make in agriculture-related programs and operating budgets for USDA agencies.  The proposed reduction of $5.2 billion for these programs and budgets represents 22.4 percent of current-year spending, more than twice the 9.2 percent cut proposed for overall domestic discretionary spending. 

Several of the programs targeted for cuts by HR 1 are particularly important for maintaining U.S. competitiveness and ensuring global food security, ASA points out. “We strongly object to the proposed reduction in funding for agriculture research, including 16.8 percent for the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and 14.8 percent for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

HungerU: the Worlds Food Crisis Demands Your Attention

Research is the foundation of U.S. agriculture's international competitiveness and of efforts to keep pace with world demand for food, feed, and fiber.  The cuts proposed to international food assistance programs, including 40.7 percent in Food for Peace and 52.3 percent in the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program, would effectively shut down food aid to developing countries at a time of rising commodity and food prices, when they can least afford it.”

The full text of the letter is below:


March 9, 2011

The Honorable Hal Rogers              The Honorable Daniel Inouye
Committee on Appropriations           Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives          United States Senate
Washington, D.C.  20515                  Washington, D.C.  20510

The Honorable Norm Dicks            The Honorable Thad Cochran
Committee on Appropriations          Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives         United States Senate
Washington, D.C.  20515                 Washington, D.C.  20510 

Dear Mr. Chairmen and Ranking Members:

The American Soybean Association (ASA) and our soybean farmer members understand the need to address deficit spending.  We are concerned, however, by the prospect that Congress may make disproportionate and devastating cuts to key agriculture-related programs in a new Continuing Resolution for FY-2011.  We urge you to take into account that domestic discretionary spending represents only 12 percent of federal spending, and should not be targeted for large cuts that will have no meaningful impact on reducing federal deficits and the growth of the national debt.  We ask that substantive cuts in domestic discretionary spending be considered only as part of a comprehensive deficit and debt reduction plan in the FY-2012 budget that encompasses entitlement as well as all discretionary programs.

ASA is concerned with the disproportionate cuts that HR 1 would make in agriculture-related programs and operating budgets for USDA agencies.  The proposed reduction of $5.2 billion for these programs and budgets represents 22.4 percent of current-year spending, more than twice the 9.2 percent cut proposed for overall domestic discretionary spending. 

Moreover, several of the programs targeted for cuts by HR 1 are particularly important for maintaining U.S. competitiveness and ensuring global food security.  We strongly object to the proposed reduction in funding for agriculture research, including 16.8 percent for the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and 14.8 percent for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS).  Research is the foundation of U.S. agriculture's international competitiveness and of efforts to keep pace with world demand for food, feed, and fiber.  The cuts proposed to international food assistance programs, including 40.7 percent in Food for Peace and 52.3 percent in the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program, would effectively shut down food aid to developing countries at a time of rising commodity and food prices, when they can least afford it.

ASA, along with the National Corn Growers Association, the National Association of Wheat Growers, and the National Sorghum Growers, issued a statement on March 5 calling for action to reduce federal deficits and the national debt.  The statement expressed the view that “any meaningful approach to deficit and debt reduction in the FY-2012 budget must encompass all entitlement programs and all discretionary spending.”  It also noted that “agriculture made a down payment in cutting spending when the Department of Agriculture directed $4 billion in savings under the Standard Reinsurance Agreement for federal crop insurance toward deficit reduction.  We believe any further reduction in discretionary spending should recognize and reflect this contribution.”

We urge your Committees to reject disproportionate cuts in agriculture-related programs and budgets, defer making substantive reductions in domestic discretionary spending in FY-2011, and work with your colleagues on the Congressional Budget Committees to develop a comprehensive approach to deficit and debt reduction in the FY-2012 budget.

Sincerely yours,

 
Robinson W. Joslin
Chairman

cc.   Members. Senate and House Appropriations Committees
 Members. Senate and House Budget Committees

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