President Trump’s newly released 2018 budget proposal requests $17.9 billion for USDA. This represents a 21% decrease from 2017.
The 2018 budget proposal outlines 10 USDA changes of note in particular, which include:
- The Food Safety and Inspection service would be fully funded. This group employs more than 8,000 personnel invested in protecting public health by inspecting approximately 6,400 slaughter and processing establishments nationwide.
- The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) would receive $6.2 billion. This is approximately $400-500 million lower than assistance in 2015 and 2016.
- Wildland fire preparedness and suppression activities will be fully funded at $2.4 billion, which is 100% of the 10-year average for suppression operations.
- Funding for “lower priority activities” in the National Forest System, including Federal land acquisition, would receive less funding. The budget will instead focus on maintaining existing forests and grasslands.
- Farmer-focused research and Extension partnerships at land-grant universities would receive continued support. That includes $350 million for USDA’s flagship competitive research program. In-house research funding within the USDA Agricultural Research Service will focus on increasing farmer productivity, sustaining natural resources and addressing food safety/nutrition priorities.
- Funding for USDA’s statistical capabilities will be reduced, but core departmental analytical functions would be maintained, including the necessary funding to complete the Census of Agriculture.
- The Water and Wastewater loan and grant program is challenged as duplicative and would be eliminated, for a savings of $498 million. The budget proposal supposes rural communities can instead receive private sector financing or use the EPA’s State Revolving Funds.
- USDA’s Service Center Agencies would reduce staffing and streamline county office operations, instead encouraging private-sector conservation planning.
- The Rural Business and Cooperative Service, which is challenged as being duplicative and underperforming, would see $95 million in discretionary activities eliminated.
- The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education program would be eliminated, for a savings of about $195 million. The proposed budget cites “lack of evidence that it is being effectively implemented to reduce food insecurity.” George McGovern and Bob Dole, who created the program in 2000, received the 2008 World Food Prize for their efforts to establish this initiative.