Agriculture Can’t Balance the Budget Alone

Viewpoints / The Zipline May 24, 2017

Credit: Architect of the Capitol / CC0 

This week, President Trump sent to Congress a proposal to slash the USDA budget by more than $228 billion over 10 years, including $38 billion from farm programs. This proposal would fail agriculture and rural America, and for that reason the American Farm Bureau cannot support it.

Farm Bureau members are concerned about the federal budget deficit. We believe agriculture should do its fair share to get us back to fiscal discipline and a balanced budget. But we’ve already done more than our fair share. 

We should not be expected to sacrifice more, when we’ve already done more than virtually any other sector.

When Congress passed the 2014 farm bill, it was estimated to cut the deficit by $23 billion over 10 years. Agriculture was the only sector that voluntarily offered savings during the 113th Congress, when the 2014 farm bill was passed. Before that, Congress passed budget reconciliation bills that targeted agriculture for savings. In fact, it is difficult to think of another sector that has done as much as agriculture to address the national deficit.

Farmers and ranchers tend to be fiscally conservative. But we are not martyrs. We should not be expected to sacrifice more, when we’ve already done more than virtually any other sector. And we certainly shouldn’t be asked to do so at a time of depressed farm prices and income.

Presidents’ budget proposals typically are declared “dead on arrival” in Congress. The president’s budget submission checks a procedural box, but it’s Congress that writes and passes a budget. The American Farm Bureau Federation will work with the appropriate committees in Congress to ensure that we maintain programs that help farmers manage risks and help rural communities survive.  

Zippy Duvall

Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

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