Administration’s budget proposal takes big bite out of bean priorities

American Soybean Association
American Soybean Association

From crop insurance to conservation programs and transportation, President Trump’s proposed budget would significantly slash programs vital to the soybean industry.

Cuts to crop insurance and farm subsidies would be deep, totaling $28 billion over 10 years. This would directly impact soy growers in several ways: The majority of those savings would come from reducing the portion of farmers’ crop insurance premiums covered by taxpayers from 62 percent down to 48 percent.

And, the President’s budget proposes to reduce the cap on Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) for recipients of Title I program payments from $900,000 to $500,000. This provision was included in the Senate version of the new Farm Bill and was not adopted by the Conference Committee.

ASA president and soybean farmer from Clinton, Kentucky, Davie Stephens said, “These cuts seem like a 180 from support we saw a few short months ago. President Trump praised the 2018 Farm Bill and the bipartisan majorities that passed it in both the House and the Senate at the signing ceremony on December 20. I and other farmers are confused as to why his budget proposal would include wholesale changes and spending cuts in Farm Bill programs.”

ASA is also very concerned the Trump Administration’s budget proposal includes reductions to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers programs that support inland waterways infrastructure. Cutting these programs would be contrary to President Trump’s pledge to invest in infrastructure, which is vital to improving the global competitiveness of U.S. soybeans and other commodities. Congress has rejected proposed cuts to these programs in the past, and ASA will continue to work with its coalition partners to significantly increase investments in inland waterways infrastructure.

Said Stephens, “Given the significant disruptions that we are experiencing in trade markets for soybeans, it is more important than ever to invest in infrastructure that will improve our future global competitiveness.”

Conservation program cuts, as proposed, would total nearly $9 billion over the next decade. The budget would eliminate the Conservation Stewardship Program, which encourages farmers to use long-term conservation practices. The White House also vowed to target enrollment and incentive payments for the Conservation Reserve Program.

Regarding trade, the Administration has again proposed ending the Food for Progress program, which donates U.S. commodities, including soy products, to developing nations. However, the White House proposal does call for an unspecified increase in funding for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to support the President’s trade agenda.