Lawmakers and stakeholders are sifting through the President Trump’s budget blueprint, getting an idea of the administration’s priorities.
President Trump unveiled his $1.1 trillion “America First” budget. In Washington, it’s called “Skinny” budget because it does not go into great detail about funding for each department in fiscal year 2018.
The administration says a more detailed version of the spending plan will come out in May.
Since Congress actually controls the budget, the president’s budget helps spell out the priorities for his administration. In this case, it cuts funding to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but it increases military and homeland security spending.
For agriculture, Trump’s spending plan allocates less than $18 billion for the USDA, representing a 21 percent reduction from the 2017 budget.
To hit the reduced level, the administration would use a mix of spending cuts and staff reductions. Spending on food stamps and crop subsidies are safe for now, but some jobs at Farm Service Agency (FSA) and local USDA offices could be at risk.
Washington watchers say with budgets rolling out, it’s important to get leadership in place at the USDA.
“I think we don’t really know what USDA will have in terms of a budget proposal,” said Mary Kay Thatcher, senior director of congressional relations with the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF). “I feel strongly that Secretary Perdue will be a strong advocate for ag trade. We need not only a secretary, but a deputy and lots of undersecretaries there sooner rather than later.”
Purdue’s paperwork has made it to the Senate Agriculture Committee. He is scheduled for a hearing on March 23.