The following is a press release from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), of which CalCAN is a member. CalCAN and a 15-member caucus of NSAC will work together in coordination with NSAC to oppose the Administration’s draconian budget proposal.
President Trump’s FY 2018 budget request – “A New Foundation for American Greatness” – seeks to cut nearly $230 billion (21 percent) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) bottom line, a reduction that would effectively cripple the Department’s ability to serve American family farmers effectively.
“It is disappointing that the Administration has put forward a budget proposal that shows such disregard and disrespect for farmers and rural communities,” said Greg Fogel, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) Policy Director. “This proposal spells disaster not only for America’s farmers and ranchers, but for our environment and our nation. By gutting the programs that help farmers start and grow their businesses, conserve resources and increase efficiency, and connect with supply chains that allow them to feed their neighbors, this proposal blatantly dismisses the contribution that rural communities make to this country.”
“We are particularly concerned with the proposed cuts to the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, the total elimination of numerous Rural Business Cooperative Service programs, and the severe funding reductions for Farm Service Agency operating loan programs,” said Fogel. “Fortunately, we expect much of this budget request to be dead on arrival with appropriators.”
The Administration’s budget request seeks to affect more than just FY 2018 appropriations; it also seeks to undo the rigorous work of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees by rewriting the farm bill and raiding programs with mandatory funding. Of particular concern to NSAC are policy changes that propose to cut $193 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and eliminate the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), Specialty Crop Block Grants (SCBG), and Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP).
“The agriculture, conservation, and nutrition communities must come together to oppose this distorted vision for the 2018 farm bill. Any attempt to produce budget reconciliation bills that would rewrite the farm bill during this Congress should be vigorously opposed,” said Fogel.
NSAC urges Congress to reject the following proposals:
- This budget confirms the Administration’s plan to dismantle Rural Development – despite the widespread interest in and support for its programs amongst farmers and rural communities. The proposal seeks to eliminate funding for nearly all Rural Business Cooperative Service programs, including Value Added Producer Grants and the Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas.
- Cuts $91 million to Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA), the program which helps USDA to deliver on-the-ground technical assistance to farmers interested in implementing conservation activities.
- While the budget does not propose any immediate cuts to CSP acreage in FY 2018, it proposes to completely eliminate CSP and RCPP in the future. CSP is USDA’s largest voluntary working lands conservation program and is currently used by thousands of farmers to apply resource saving practices and systems on their land.
- No immediate cut to the Conservation Reserve Program is included, however the proposal does include policy language that would undermine USDA’s ability to help farmers install conservation buffers that reduce nutrient loss.
On-Farm Research and Food Safety
- Includes a 30 percent cut to SARE, USDA’s only farmer-driven research program, which provides millions in grant funding each year to support farmer-led agricultural innovations.
- Provides flat funding for the Food Safety Outreach Program, a critical support program that helps farmers and food processors navigate and comply with complex food safety regulations.
Marketing and Nutrition
- Zeroes out funding for the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP).
- Eliminates FMLFPP, a competitive grants program that helps fuel farmer entrepreneurship in the local and regional food sector.
- Eliminates the SCBG Program, which helps state departments of agriculture enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.
- Cuts $193 billion from SNAP, a program that helps millions of low-income individuals access healthy food.