The leaders of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees sent a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, recommending a $23 billion cut to mandatory spending within the committees’ jurisdiction. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Pat Roberts (R-KS), Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Representatives Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Collin Peterson (D-MN), Chair and Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee, will continue working together on the details of the spending cuts in the same bipartisan fashion that has defined the process to date.
The four lawmakers issued the following joint statement:
"Agriculture has a long legacy of bipartisanship and today the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are preserving that tradition. In the coming weeks, we will continue working with our House and Senate colleagues to provide the Joint Select Committee a detailed set of policy recommendations for achieving these important savings."
Link to full text of the letter.
In their letter, the lawmakers note, "Commodity program spending represents less than one quarter of one percent of the Federal Budget, and actual Commodity Title spending has been almost $25 billion below Congressional Budget Office projections at the time the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills were passed. Crop insurance underwent $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. This totals $14 billion since the passage of the Agriculture Risk Protection Act in 2000. Conservation has been cut by over $3 billion during the last five years. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was cut by nearly $12 billion in the last Congress to offset other spending. In addition, there are also 37 programs, totaling nearly $10 billion, which expire and have no baseline into future years."
The lawmakers say in their letter they are currently finalizing the policies that would achieve $23 billion in deficit reduction and will provide a complete legislative package by November 1, 2011. "Deficit savings at this level is more than any sequestration process would achieve and should absolve the programs in our jurisdiction from any further reductions," they add.