President Donald Trump has issued his first budget proposal, covering Fiscal Year 2018, “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.” After reviewing the budget document, National Association of Wheat Growers President David Schemm, a wheat grower from Sharon Springs, Kansas issued the following statement:
“While we’re pleased that this budget outline doesn’t include any cuts to crop insurance or Title 1 farm programs, we are very concerned about the impact that the deep discretionary cuts, particularly at USDA, will have on wheat farmers across the country,” said Schemm. “Many of the proposals in the budget blueprint would have an outsized impact on rural America, particularly the possible cuts to agricultural research and to USDA county offices. Given the rough economic conditions and perpetual low prices, now is not the time to make such drastic cuts.”
The budget blueprint, which is the President’s recommendation to Congress about areas to prioritize funding, includes a reduction from the FY 2017 level of $22.6 billion down to $17.9 billion in discretionary spending, a 21 percent reduction, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. NAWG is concerned about what these cuts could mean for wheat research, the functionality of farm programs resulting from cuts to NASS and USDA county offices, rural infrastructure programs, and anti-hunger programs like the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education Program. The blueprint also contains a 31 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). While NAWG believes the EPA needs to be reined in, NAWG wants to ensure that the agency is funded at a level that allows for timely work on registration review of crop protection tools and evaluation of new products. Growers rely on EPA to evaluate the safety of crop protection tools and they need to do so in an efficient and effective manner.
“As the budget process gets underway, we will work with the House and Senate to ensure a common-sense approach to their proposals for FY18 Budget and Appropriations,” said Schemm. “We will also work with the Trump Administration regarding support for important farm safety net programs to ensure they are not subject to mandatory spending cuts or limitations as additional budget details are released this spring. Let’s also remember the $23 billion in deficit reduction over 10 years that was generated by the 2014 Farm Bill. USDA programs generated budget savings and continue to do so, as shown by the recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate that the 2014 Farm Bill actually reduced spending by $100 billion over ten years.”