NFU Urges Congress to Roll Back Cuts to Ag Programs
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson is urging Congress to restore funding to certain agriculture programs that were severely cut in the U.S. House of Representatives agriculture appropiations bill. In a letter to the House Appropriations Committee, Johnson said that the long-term costs of the cuts outweigh the short-term benefits. Under the proposed appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2012, agriculture's budget will have been cut 26-percent in the last two years.
"Fiscal responsibility should not entail cutting costs to realize short-term savings that result in increased long-term expenses," said Johnson. "NFU members know the importance of balancing a budget and prioritizing expenditures but we believe the proposed agriculture spending cuts will be a seriuos mistake as we try to emerge from the economic downturn."
In addition to making severe cuts to important agriculture and nutrition programs, the appropriations bill contains a rider that would prevent implementation of the proposed GIPSA rule.
"The GIPSA rule proposes to restore competition to the livestock and poultry marketplace and is long overdue," said Johnson. "USDA proposed the rule in June 2010 to implement provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill that called for enforcement of the 90 year-old Packers and Stockyards Act. Now is not the time for further delay."
Funding for agriculture research, rural development, conservation programs, and nutrition were all cut significantly in the appropriations bill, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Food and Drug Administration were funded well below the levels necessary to fulfill their important regulatory obligations. Johnson urged Congress to ensure that funding reductions be proportionate across all federal program areas and that agriculture is not unfairly burdened with cuts.