Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue had a busy day of commentary on Thursday. As Montana Public Radio reported, Perdue spoke at an ag summit in Great Falls and suggested cuts not just to food stamps, but crop insurance as well.
Perdue told the crowd that food stamps, or SNAP, as it is called, should ensure no one goes hungry. Americans are compassionate and the program will be administered that way. Still, SNAP should not be "a permanent lifestyle, either. It ought to be a hand up and help out to do that."
Perdue apparently got applause with those comments, but as the MTPR report noted, "Perdue didn't get applause when he talked about cuts to another safety-net program" -- talking about crop insurance. Perdue said, "Now, I just want to say something in a kind of tough love kind of way."
Perdue implied at least some farmers buy insurance hoping it will pay out on a lost crop. "But just let's face it, you don't buy insurance on your house hoping it'll burn down, do you? We don't want to do that. And neither do we want to buy crop insurance hoping our crop fails so we can file," Perdue said. "So, we’ve got to get out of the mindset that, if I invest a dollar in crop insurance, I want to make sure I get a dollar-ten or plus out of that."
Perdue has not specifically given a full-force defense of the White House budget proposal for USDA, but this was among his first comments suggesting changes are needed to the crop insurance program. The White House calls for capping crop insurance premium subsidies at $40,000 a year, which would cut the premium subsidy for about 33,000 farmers, according to USDA. The proposal would also eliminate all crop insurance premium subsidies for farmers with a $500,000 adjusted gross income.
Perdue also missed the rush by Congress to save crop insurance from $300 million a year in cuts in 2015.
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