UPDATE: Congressional leaders and President Obama reached a compromise and averted a shutdown of the government late last night. Details of the agreement are still emerging, but it appears the deal contains most of the cuts in farm spending called for by House Republicans.
Farm organization leaders are also calling for spending reductions to be dropped from the FY12 Budget Resolution reported out by the House Budget Committee on a party-line vote Friday.
Over the last few days, we’ve received press releases from numerous farm organizations that said they support reducing the federal budget deficit. But each has also warned against excessive spending cuts that could damage the farm safety net.
Those words seem to be falling on deaf ears as House Republicans appear to be determined to shut down the federal government if they can’t advance an agenda that even some Republicans are calling short-sighted and over-reaching.
It’s obvious from conversations with readers in recent months that many producers supported Republican House, Senate and gubernatorial candidates in the November elections..
But some of you may be wondering if you and your candidate were on the same page. If you didn’t send your representative or senator to Congress to cut an additional 20 percent of the funding for farm programs over the next 10 years - over what’s already been taken out. Or slash $18 billion out of conservation programs or $100 billion out of nutrition programs then perhaps you need to have a conversation with your member of Congress.
Here’s what the leader of one farm organization said in a press release this week: “It must be pointed out that even before any cuts, farm program expenditures have been falling for years.It is vital that decisions to cut farm program spending be made with a recognition of the cyclical nature of our farm economy and its ties to a global economy that can be even more volatile.”
Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, went on to say, “The cost of our safety net varies by market condition. For example, even before any proposed cuts, projections indicate a downward trend in farm program spending in the 2011 fiscal year. Expenditures will be down by about 13 percent compared to the 2010 fiscal year. That is a clear sign our farm bill works as intended and costs less when commodity prices are higher.”
If you’re wondering what to say to your congressman, that might be a good place to start.