Soy growers oppose White House budget
The American Soybean Association (ASA) signaled strong opposition to proposed cuts in the FY-2018 budget released by the White House last week.
By shredding our farm safety net, slashing critical agricultural research and conservation initiatives, and hobbling our access to foreign markets, this budget is a blueprint for how to make already difficult times in rural America even worse,” said Ron Moore, ASA president and a soybean farmer from Roseville, Ill.
The budget would cut the federal crop insurance program by $28.5 billion—or roughly 36 percent—by capping the premium subsidy and eliminating the harvest price option. The crop insurance program is widely used by soybean farmers, and the harvest price option was selected in 99.4 percent of soybean revenue insurance policies sold in 2016. The White House’s proposed budget also would cut nearly $9 billion from Title I commodity supports, including the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, by reducing the adjusted gross income (AGI) eligibility cap from $900,000 to $500,000.
“Thirty six percent is the most extreme proposed cut to crop insurance I’ve seen in my 40 years on the farm,” Moore said. “This is a program that exists to sustain farmers who suffer catastrophic losses. Coupled with the arbitrary caps the budget would impose on premium subsidies, it’s clear that this budget was written without input from farmers who would be severely affected.”
The budget also poses an existential threat to export promotion and foreign food assistance programs. It eliminates funding for the two hallmark U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs for the expansion of foreign markets: the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development program (FMD). MAP and FMD leverage matching funds from industry to establish and grow markets for U.S. agricultural products abroad, and ASA recently requested that funding for them be doubled in the coming farm bill. The budget would also zero out the McGovern Dole Food for Education Program, as well as the Food for Peace program (P.L. 480), both of which provide funding for the food security programs that ASA undertakes in the developing world through its World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) program.
“Elimination of MAP and FMD completely ignores the global nature of our industry,” Moore said. “Those programs are key to the work that soybeans and so many other crops conduct overseas to boost trade and trigger a multiplier effect that creates jobs and increased economic activity well beyond agriculture.”
The budget would cut nearly $6 billion from conservation programs, including the elimination of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which is USDA’s largest conservation program with more than 70 million acres enrolled, and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
“Beyond our concern that these programs were already cut by more than $6 billion just three years ago as part of the 2014 Farm Bill, their elimination will significantly hamper on-farm progress toward healthier water, soil and air,” Moore said.
A positive note in the budget welcomed by Moore was progress on regulatory reform and infrastructure investment.
“We are encouraged by the promise of reducing burdensome regulations and permitting processes, as well as the recognition of the need for infrastructure investments, including inland waterways and ports,” he said. “This exercise is not a new one. We’re aware that Congress—not the president—passes the budget, and agriculture has rebuffed attacks on farm and food programs for years. The danger is that the extreme and ill-informed cuts in this document will embolden those in Congress who lack any understanding of how these programs combine to protect the food and farm supply chain for all Americans.”