The USA Rice Federation is seriously troubled by the level of proposed budget cuts to agriculture programs included in the fiscal year 2012 budget resolution offered by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.

The resolution proposes $175 billion in cuts over 10 years — a reduction of more than 20 percent to the budget baseline for agriculture and nutrition programs.

These proposed cuts would be in addition to the $15 billion in cuts agriculture has already sustained over the past six years, including $6 billion in 2010 as a result of the Standard Reinsurance Agreement (SRA) for crop insurance negotiated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Agriculture is being asked to shoulder a hugely disproportionate share of deficit reduction relative to our impact on the federal budget,” USA Rice Federation chairman and Louisiana rice producer Jackie Loewer said.

“We have already sustained significant budget cuts, and contributed $4 billion to deficit reduction in the SRA negotiations, yet we are being subjected to proposed cuts that would make crafting the next farm bill all but impossible.”

Ryan’s proposal would cut $30 billion from commodity, crop insurance and trade promotion programs; $18 billion from conservation programs; and $100 billion from the food and nutrition programs.

“We recognize this is the first step in the federal budget process, but if budget cuts of this magnitude are imposed on agriculture, then the ability of the Agriculture Committee to develop a safety net for U.S. agriculture will be severely limited,” USA Rice Producers’ Group Chairman and California rice producer Frank Rehermann said.

“We recognize that strong prices for many commodities have led to reduced spending under the farm bill, resulting in a lower budget baseline for agriculture, and the Budget Committee should be cognizant of the cyclical and volatile nature of agriculture,” Rehermann added.

“The House Agriculture Committee must have the resources needed to write a farm bill in 2012 that will provide a safety net in times of low prices and reduced revenue.”

Rehermann thanked House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., for the recent letter they sent to the Budget Committee noting agriculture’s contribution to deficit reduction to date, and urging a balanced and equitable budget proposal relative to agriculture.

While USA Rice and all of agriculture has indicated a willingness to work toward addressing the nation’s debt situation, the Ryan proposal would irresponsibly harm production agriculture and leave family farmers with little protection against the vagaries of the weather and markets, and could threaten the stability of our agricultural production system.