Leaders of the nation’s largest farm groups say legislation offered by the House to trim federal spending by $61 billion fails to recognize the contributions already made U.S. agriculture to those efforts.
Members of the American Soybean Association, the National Association of Wheat Growers, the National Corn Growers Association and the National Sorghum Producers were responding to provisions in the House Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government past March 18.
In a statement released as the organizations concluded their annual meetings at Commodity Classic in Tampa, the groups said their members “recognize that reducing federal deficits and the national debt is critical to putting the American economy, including U.S. agriculture, on a sound course” for future growth and prosperity.
“We note that agriculture made a down payment in cutting spending when the Department of Agriculture directed $4 billion in savings under the Standard Reinsurance Agreement for federal crop insurance toward deficit reduction,” the statement noted.
“We believe any further reduction in discretionary spending should recognize and reflect this contribution. We would also note that agriculture-related programs represent less than one-half of 1 percent of the federal budget.”
The statement was attributed to National Association of Wheat Growers President Jerry McReynolds, a wheat producer from Woodston, Kan.; National Corn Growers Association President Bart Schott, a corn grower from Kulm, N.D.; American Soybean Association President Alan Kemper, soybean farmer from Lafayette, Ind.; and National Sorghum Producers Chairman Gerald Simonsen, a sorghum grower from Ruskin, Neb.
“Looking forward, we believe any meaningful approach to deficit and debt reduction in the fiscal 2012 budget must encompass all entitlement programs and all discretionary spending,” it said. “We look forward to working with Congress and the administration to develop a budget that successfully addresses the need for federal deficit and debt reduction balanced with the need of ensuring a successful agricultural economy.”
The statement was one of a number of policy positions adopted by the four groups during the 2011 Commodity Classic, which broke records for attendance. At least 4,826 persons attended, breaking the previous record set when the event was held in Nashville three years ago.
Along with a statement that the ethanol blenders tax credit should be transitioned to a market-based safety net for the ethanol industry, National Corn Grower delegates adopted language saying the organization should investigate transitioning direct payments into programs that allow producers the ability to manage risk while assuring food security.”
Delegates to the NCGA’s Corn Congress also defined what a “safety net” means — a combination of risk management tools available to producers that have the ability to protect against revenue losses due to circumstances beyond their control.