Fourteen farm organizations signed onto a letter Tuesday to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid raising their concerns over the Senate proposal that would cut $27.5 billion from farm programs over the next decade through elimination of direct payments.
"Your proposed legislation seriously undermines efforts to advance much needed reforms to meet the long term risk management needs of America's family farmers," the groups said. "While our grower members are prepared to contribute their fair share of cuts to help reduce our nation's unsustainable deficits, we cannot support a doubling of reductions in the commodity title funding."
Reid and Senate Democrats last week proposed an offset to the sequester cuts set to take place starting March 1. On Tuesday, USDA released a report citing thousands of job furloughs and other affects if the sequester cuts go into effect. USDA cited that the department would face just under $2 billion in cuts this year to a broad array of programs.
The farm groups stated they understood the bill proposed by Reid and other Senate Democrats would restore funding to 24 programs at USDA, including disaster aid for livestock, fruit and vegetable producers. Still, the groups want budget decisions on farm programs should be made by the Senate Agriculture Committee.
The agricultural groups also questioned the long-term benefits of the budget cuts, noting the bill would only delay the sequestration cuts until next January. The groups also cited that under the Senate's proposal only agriculture and defense would face budget cuts.
The letter noted farmers would be forced to take 10 years of cuts to delay the sequester for less than a year. "That is hard to justify," the ag groups stated. "We also believe it is simply unfair to assign the burden of cost reductions to only two areas of government spending -- agriculture and defense."
Groups signing the letter include the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers, National Cotton Council, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Sorghum Producers, Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, U.S. Canola Association, U.S. Dry Bean Council, USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council, USA Rice Federation and the Western Peanut Growers Association.
A full copy of the letter can be found at http://dld.bz/…
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