Ag Cuts Proposed

Written by Dennis Sun

President Trump wants large cuts to agriculture in his first proposed budget plan, and one can hear the howling across the nation. It is time to get your lobbying skills up and running.

Now, one has to realize that the President Trump’s proposed budget plan is just that – proposed. Our ranking Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) will be the first to tell you that he is the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and that is a powerful position. He will tell you that it is up to Congress to develop and approve the budget.

Of course, these days Congress is all across the board. A number of the members don’t represent or have agriculture in their districts, and so anything is a safe vote for them. Party lines or paying off the national debt may not be a priority for them, but getting re-elected is.

A lot of what the President is proposing will have to be worked out in the upcoming Farm Bill that has already had some hearings on. The plan predicts a balanced federal budget in 10 years according to a DTN Progressive Farmer article. Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, believes the country will generate higher economic growth than currently projected. 

Mulvaney said economic growth under Obama was poor at 1.9 percent, but said, “We believe we can get to three percent growth.” We hope he is right.

President Trump wants to spend these cuts to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other federal agencies to increase spending to the Department of Defense by $25.4 billion in 2018, as well as a $4.3 billion increase in Veterans Affairs and a $2.8 billion increase for the Department of Homeland Security.

Mulvaney said this administration’s first official budget plan was written “through the eyes of the people paying taxes.”

He went on to say, “Spending is merited based on the number of people a program helps and whether that spending is justifiable to taxpayers. We simply cannot continue to measure our compassion by the amount of money we’ve spent.”

You know, America’s low cost of food is somewhat related to crop insurance availability and other commodity payments they receive. Dropping crop insurance availability, the amount of insurance and who can receive it may force the price of food up.

The proposed plan also wants to shift more USDA functions to user fees over time. For example, meatpackers would pay USDA $5.9 billion in user fees over 10 years for meat safety inspections, along with higher fees to the Animal and Plant Inspection Service, the Agriculture Marketing Service and the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration. This would collect a combined $700 million in higher user fees during the next 10 years.  I would guess these fees would ultimately cost this nation’s farmers and ranchers in the long run.

Don’t forget to attend the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) meetings in Buffalo June 6-9. It is the 125th anniversary of the Johnson County War, only this time the stock growers are showing up in the daytime, without horses and guns for a “peaceful” re-invasion. Great speakers, fun events and a good dose of history will make for a great time.  Get on the WSGA website to see all that is happening in Buffalo. It’s time to get away for a couple of days and let the grass grow. From golf to soil health to learning from others and having fun, we’ll see you there.