The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

Peterson: Ag cuts for fiscal year 2011 total $1.502 billion

As members of Congress and lobbyists today tried to figure out exactly what agriculture programs cuts have been made in the continuing resolution to fund the government through the fiscal year that ends on September 30, House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., presented the North American Agricultural Journalists with a list of cuts he considers especially significant because they affect mandatory programs supposedly under the control of the authorizing committees rather than the appropriators:

Ferd Hoefner of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition called the conservation cut “massive,” saying that “since farmers signing up for the Conservation Stewardship Program in 2011 will not receive their first payments until fiscal year 2012, this proposed cutback would actually force the government to break the terms of the five-year contracts already signed with farmers in 2009 and 2010 and attempt to get payments back. Reneging on contracts already in effect truly represents government at its very worst. We will encourage farmers to appeal.”

The Wetlands Reserve Program cut would reduce the program by 48,000 acres while the EQIP cut would mean “less conservation on the land even as production pressures mount, plus an even bigger backlog and waiting list of farmers trying to enroll but unable to participate due to funding cutbacks.”

The continuing resolution also includes a $500 million cut in the special nutrition program for women, infants and children, but Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today that that cut should not have an immediate impact because it is from a reserve account. Vilsack cautioned, however, that there could be WIC funding problems if there should be any miscalculation in expectations of demand for WIC. During the recession, birth rates have been down, which has decreased demand for WIC.

House and Senate appropriations committees also released charts and statements on the continuing resolution and the expected impact on agriculture: