Agricultural Funding at a Crossroads

October 28, 2011 11:08 AM

A 12-member super committee must identify at least $1.2 trillion in budget reductions this fall—a large chunk of the $1.5 trillion that will be cut in the next 10 years to reduce the national debt.
The House and Senate Agriculture Committees sent their recommendations, which included cutting $23 billion in agriculture programs during the next 10 years, to the super committee.

"Agriculture has a long legacy of bipartisanship, and today the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are preserving that tradition," said the committees’ leaders, Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Ranking Member Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Ranking Member Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), when submitting their recommendations.

Serving as a reminder to the super committee, the committee leaders detailed some of the prior budget cuts in agriculture:

  • Commodity program spending represents less than one-quarter of 1% of the federal budget, and the actual commodity title spending was almost $25 billion below Congressional Budget Office projections at the time the 2002 and 2008 farm bills were passed.
  • Crop insurance has lost $14 billion in funding since the passage of the Agricultural Risk Protection Act in 2000: $6 billion in reductions through the most recent renegotiation of the Standard Reinsurance Agreement, $6 billion in cuts in the last farm bill and $2 billion in the 2002 farm bill.
  • Conservation has been cut by more than $3 billion during the past five years.
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was cut by nearly $12 billion during the last Congress to offset other spending.
  • There are 37 programs, totaling nearly $10 billion, that will expire and have no baseline in the future.

With those cuts in mind, the panel leaders stressed to the super committee that $23 billion in savings "is more than any sequestration process would achieve and should absolve the programs in our jurisdiction from any further reductions."

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