The president wants to cut all non-defense funding by 5 percent
By Diego Flammini
President Trump’s next fiscal budget could have significant implications for the federal ag department.
Cuts to several federal departments – including the USDA – are expected to be part of the budget for fiscal year 2020. Budget details could be made public as early as March 11.
These reductions will help reduce the national debt and allow for a boost in national defense spending.
“The president’s 2020 budget will meet the target of a 5 percent reduction to non-defense discretionary spending, by means of one of the largest spending reductions in history,” Russ Vought, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in an essay for RealClearPolitics on Monday.
The USDA’s 2019 budget is about US$139 billion. A 5 percent cut would reduce USDA funding by almost US$7 billion, dropping the department’s annual budget to about US$132 billion.
Although the president is using 5 percent as the benchmark, the USDA could be in for “big cuts,” Secretary Perdue told reporters on Monday, Politico reported.
Government officials worry how any spending cuts would affect farmers.
With farm incomes down and some U.S. ag commodities in trade limbo, producers may decide to leave the industry, Collin Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, told Secretary Perdue during an update on the state of the rural economy on Wednesday.
Proposed cuts are worrisome “because the situation hasn’t gotten any better in farm country,” Peterson said. “In our discussions the last few times you’ve been up here, I’ve sadly started my comments by pointing to the growing economic storm in farm country.
“Incomes continue to decline, wins on trade have yet to materialize, credit and capital are becoming harder to obtain, and folks are deciding it’s easier to sell the farm and move to the city than to continue trying to grind out a living.”
Farm organizations are waiting until concrete figures are published before making any remarks.
“We haven’t seen the proposals, but they are due to be released on March 11. We should be able to say something then,” Will Rodger, director of policy communications with the American Farm Bureau Federation, told Farms.com in an email.