The Montana Farm Bureau is taking a critical look at budget cuts facing the nation that will affect its members. Farm Bureau applauds efforts to put the nation back on a path toward a more responsible federal budget, but is concerned about cuts that might impact the safety net that supports Montana’s farmers.
“The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) January 2011 Baseline Update shows only four percent of the total farm bill going to commodity programs, while 84 percent goes to nutrition programs,” points out Montana Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Jake Cummins. “Farm program payments contribute to our nation’s food security. In our budget cutting zeal, I hope we submit nutrition programs to the same level of scrutiny we are applying to the 2 percent of our population who are feeding the rest of us, including the people getting free lunches, before we do anything that may put Montana’s farmers and ranchers out of business.”
Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau, also urged common sense and caution when cutting into farm programs. “It must be pointed out that even before any cuts, farm program expenditures have been falling for years,” he noted. “It is vital that decisions to cut farm program spending be made with recognition of the cyclical nature of our farm economy and its ties to a global economy that can be even more volatile. The cost of our safety net varies by market condition. For example, even before any proposed cuts, projections indicate a downward trend in farm program spending in the 2011 fiscal year. Expenditures will be down by about 13 percent compared to the 2010 fiscal year. That is a clear sign our farm bill works as intended and costs less when commodity prices are higher.”
The Farm Bureau leaders acknowledged the need to address the country’s deficit, but urge that lawmakers, especially those working on the farm bill, make cuts with a “fair hand and a focus on the long-term, big picture facing American agriculture.”
“We recognize it is early in the process and all that has happened so far is a budget target suggested by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Chairman Ryan is to be commended for understanding where we are in the farm bill cycle and for giving the House and Senate Agriculture committees the flexibility to hold off on program changes until the next farm bill is crafted. We will work closely with those committees as this effort moves forward,” Stallman concluded.
Source: Montana Farm Bureau Federation
Posted by Haylie Shipp