Details on President Trump’s 2020 budget were released this month. In an attempt to rein in federal spending, the budget recommends a $3.6 billion cut to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Unfortunately, the proposals set forth in this budget seem far-removed from the realities rural Americans face every day.
The budget makes cuts to conservation programs, and proposes elimination of the Conservation Stewardship Program. These recommendations would significantly reduce the ability of farmers to implement conservation practices that address important resource concerns on productive acres, such as soil health or water quality.
We are concerned with the push to eliminate funding for rural development programs, such as the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, Value-Added Producer Grants, and Rural Cooperative Development Grants. The administration claims these programs “have not been able to show evidence of improved outcomes,” but we’ve seen the impact of these programs firsthand. These small programs help entrepreneurs and small businesses take root in rural communities, and revitalize struggling local economies.
Lastly, we appreciate the continued efforts by the administration to call for reform of crop insurance and commodity subsidy payments, but disagree on the specific proposals outlined. This budget blindly shifts additional burdens onto the shoulders of farmers who are already assuming exorbitant risk, high input costs, and continued poor commodity prices.
Despite our concerns, we remain committed to advocating for programs that invest in our farms and rural communities. We are calling on congressional leaders to recognize the needs of rural America as they consider appropriating funds for fiscal year 2020.
Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.