Ag Policy Blog

Conaway Protects Ag From Larger Budget Cuts

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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House Ag Chairman Michael Conaway speaking at Commodity Classic earlier this year. (Photo by Chris Clayton)

Politico highlighted in an article Monday House Agriculture Chairman Michael Conaway's delicate talks with the chairwoman of the House Budget Committee to stave off billions of dollars of cuts to the next farm bill.

Conaway, R-Texas, may have already protected billions of dollars for farmer and food stamps, Politico reported.

Conaway met with Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., on June 29, just before Congress took its holiday break. The basis of the meeting was how much the Agriculture Committee was going to give up to the House budget plan that would eventually lay the groundwork for congressional tax cuts. As Politico reported, "Sources with knowledge of the discussions say that the agriculture committee was initially facing around $70 billion in proposed cuts over the next decade, but Conaway's intervention kept the pullback to around $10 billion."

A $70-billion cut in USDA spending would have hamstrung any efforts to get a farm bill completed next year. Conaway is working to advance a farm bill out of the Agriculture Committee and House late this year.

Conaway has stressed the struggles of the agricultural economy -- along with prior budget cuts to USDA programs -- should give the Agriculture Committee some latitude to deal with a farm bill without being saddled with mandates for extensive cuts. But such efforts to stave off cuts run counter to plans from right-wing Washington groups. Heritage Action, for instance, had jumped out and attacked Conaway the day before he met with Black.

Conaway told Politico he was confident the deal he struck with Black would give the Agriculture Committee latitude to pass a farm bill.…

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