House Ag asks for no further budget cuts
February 27, 2018
The House Agriculture Committee today approved a letter to the House Budget Committee asking that no further cuts be made to the programs under its jurisdiction.
In a statement accompanying the release of the letter, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, said, "Our committee is writing a farm bill under significantly different circumstances than it was four years ago — prices were high and the farm economy was strong."
"Things couldn't look more different today. Net farm income is down to the lowest level in 12 years, and high and rising foreign subsidies, tariffs and trade barriers have resulted in chronically depressed prices.
"In spite of these tough times in farm country, the 2014 farm bill is on target to save taxpayers north of $100 billion over 10 years — more than four times what was pledged. In the midst of a very tenuous agriculture economy, we need the flexibility to craft a budget-neutral farm bill that benefits producers and consumers alike."
In an opening statement, Conaway said, "We have one heck of a task before us this year, and that is getting a farm bill done — and done on time."
Conaway acknowledged that the letter ignores the cuts proposed by President Donald Trump.
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"Like previous budgets, the administration put forward a proposal. And, like other budget proposals, some ideas make more of a splash than others — that is all part of the process. Our job is to evaluate all options and determine what is the best policy," Conaway noted.
House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said in an opening statement, "As the chairman outlined, and the views and estimates letter makes clear, farm prices have dropped in recent years and agriculture is facing difficult times."
"Agriculture and nutrition programs have also provided significant budget savings over CBO's estimates. It is for these reasons that I am opposed to any attempts to further reduce farm bill program spending.
"We have a new farm bill to write this year and, quite frankly, it's not going to be easy without any new money. But I think we all understand that is the situation we are operating under and we should be able to work together to make sure our farm bill programs are operating as efficiently as possible.
"It is important that we are united in opposition to cutting our programs. The administration's budget proposal calls for $265 billion in mandatory farm bill cuts and I would anticipate some members looking to that document as a blueprint when it comes time to debate the farm bill on the floor.
"With that said, I'm proud to say the chairman and I are still working together to reach agreement on a bipartisan farm bill that can hopefully be unveiled in the coming weeks."