In a news release, the American Soybean Association signaled strong opposition to proposed cuts in the FY-2018 budget released by the White House this morning.
“By shredding our farm safety net, slashing critical agricultural research and conservation initiatives, and hobbling our access to foreign markets, this budget is a blueprint for how to make already difficult times in rural America even worse,” said Ron Moore, ASA president and a soybean farmer from Roseville, Ill.
The budget would cut the federal crop insurance program by $28.5 billion-or roughly 36 percent-by capping the premium subsidy and eliminating the harvest price option. The crop insurance program is widely used by soybean farmers, and the harvest price option was selected in 99.4 percent of soybean revenue insurance policies sold in 2016. The White House’s proposed budget also would cut nearly $9 billion from Title I commodity supports, including the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs, by reducing the adjusted gross ineligibility cap from $900,000 to $500,000.
The budget also poses an existential threat to export promotion and foreign food assistance programs. It eliminates funding for the two hallmark USDA programs for the expansion of foreign markets: the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development program. MAP and FMD leverage matching funds from industry to establish and grow markets for U.S. agricultural products abroad, and ASA recently requested that funding for them be doubled in the coming farm bill. The budget would also zero out the McGovern Dole Food for Education Program, as well as the Food for Peace program (P.L. 480), both of which provide funding for the food security programs that ASA undertakes in the developing world through its World Initiative for Soy in Human Health program.
The budget would cut nearly $6 billion from conservation programs, including the elimination of the Conservation Stewardship Program which is USDA’s largest conservation program with more than 70 million acres enrolled, and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
“Beyond our concern that these programs were already cut by more than $6 billion just three years ago as part of the 2014 Farm Bill, their elimination will significantly hamper on-farm progress toward healthier water, soil and air,” Moore said.
A positive note in the budget welcomed by Moore was progress on regulatory reform and infrastructure investment. “We are encouraged by the promise of reducing burdensome regulations and permitting processes, as well as the recognition of the need for infrastructure investments, including inland waterways and ports,” he said.