In Obama’s proposed budget, “there are small increases in overall discretionary spending due, in part, to fully funding the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) nutrition program for the full participation of 9.1 million people,” said Vilsack. “And there’s a significant increase in our competitive research grant allocation. Even with those increases, the amount in our discretionary budget is roughly the same as it was in 2011.”

On the mandatory side, “we do see increases but those are primarily a result of a function of the 2008 farm bill as it relates to crop insurance and the fact that there are double payments being made in fiscal year 2013. A shift in timing of those payments has led to an increase in our mandatory funding.”

Further, there is “growth in the farm and commodity portion of our budget. Conservation is roughly at 22 percent, up from 19 percent last year. And there’s a decline in the percentage of our budget allocated to nutrition assistance programs from 75 percent to 72 percent.”

The proposed budget will “allow us to avoid disruptive furloughs and significant layoffs, which would be disruptive to services important to folks in rural America.”

It will also allow the farm economy to expand, claimed Vilsack, who cited a list of continuing commitments:

  • A commitment to exports by fully funding the Market Access Program (MAP), which is “extraordinarily important” to promotion of agricultural exports. Every dollar spent on MAP generates $35 in trade activity.
  • Commitment to the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) loan guarantee program. “That allows, roughly, $5.5 billion of ag trade to take place.”
  • Commitment to support extension of domestic markets through the funding of rural development programs as well as a number of energy programs in the 2008 farm bill. The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) will continue “although it will be a substantially reduced commitment,” said Vilsack.
  • Commitment to the farmer credit. “Roughly, 29,000 farmers will benefit from the credit in this budget.”
  • Commitment to the MIDAS (Modernize and Innovate the Delivery of Agricultural Systems) program, which aims to modernize USDA offices with up-to-date technology. This “will make it easier for producers, in the long run, to access programs that the Farm Service Agency will require.”