The old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” readily applies to U.S. agriculture – one of the few sectors in the U.S. economy that is currently doing well. Yet, agriculture is a primary target for extensive government funding cuts in President Obama’s “Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction,” which he made public last month.
The President’s plan calls for gutting direct payments to producers, cutting crop insurance subsidies and slashing conservation funding. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), “the president’s proposal would include a $33 billion reduction in agriculture programs.”
AFBF states that it “adamantly opposes reductions of that magnitude.” An essential reason that Farm Bureau opposes such huge cuts to agricultural programs is to maintain its support for farm families. “If it were not for direct payments during droughts over the past few years, “many family owned and operated farms would be out of business,” points out AFBF in its published recommendations for the 2012 Farm Bill.
“All businesses are risky and it’s tough out there for small businesses in general, but the fact is that agriculture has weather that it has to deal with and probably this is a perfect year to think about it,” says AFBF Farm Policy Specialist Mary Kay Thatcher. “We’ve had floods. We’ve had fires, hurricanes, droughts. You can’t predict those things.”
The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) also shares apprehensions over President Obama’s recently announced deficit reduction plan. Bart Schott, NCGA president, says “we are deeply concerned by proposals that would directly undermine a farmer’s ability to purchase adequate insurance coverage in a time of heightened volatility in commodity markets.”
Yet, in an introduction to last month’s White House deficit reduction plan (pdf), President Obama has the audacity to state that “everyone – including millionaires and billionaires – has to pay their fair share.” Apparently, the president considers most folks engaged in ag-related businesses to be millionaires and billionaires, because he’s asking the agriculture sector to take on a highly disproportionate amount of budget cuts compared to other sectors. (See article from the National Association of Wheat Growers.)
Yes, rather than promoting national food security and homegrown agriculture in his budget plans, our president is taking the nation’s food producers to the chopping block, to the woodshed and to the bus station for having done well in order to pay for a budget deficit that is largely a result of his own failed policies. Both the budget and the national deficit have ballooned under President Obama’s leadership, but neither is related to an increase in funding for agriculture.
In a July 14 letter to President Obama, the American Soybean Association, NCGA and more than 100 other farm groups, wrote “to express our strong opposition to any deficit reduction package that would disproportionately impact U.S. farmers and ranchers and rural America.” It further states,“we have watched the total federal dollars allocated for assistance to farmers and ranchers diminish with each passing year. … We strongly urge you to develop a balanced approach to deficit reduction that distributes reductions to all segments of the federal budget.”
Their letter was sent to no avail. President Obama has done just the opposite.
In fact, if you were to do a Web search for “Obama Throws Under the Bus,” you’ll find Rev. Wright, grandma, seniors, independents, unions, the vice president and self in the results. Now you can add farm families to the list.
You may or may not agree. Either way, I welcome your input on this or any topic related to soybean production and/or farm life.
When writing, please let me know your name, where you farm or work, what your comment is and whether or not I have permission to use your comment in a future Soybean E-Digest newsletter.
You can contact me (John Pocock) at: [email protected].
Thanks for your readership.