Late last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) released the Senate Democrats’ proposal to avoid the upcoming sequestration through spending cuts and revenue increases. Included in this “American Family Economic Protection Act” proposal were a number of changes to USDA spending, many addressing shortcomings of the terrible Farm Bill extension passed in early January.
The proposal would restore funding to a number of farm programs that were left out of the extension, including programs that support conservation, value-added, and young and beginning farmers.
“We applaud Senator Reid for proposing to fix the fiscally irresponsible and unfair farm bill extension that was slapped together behind closed doors at the end of 2012,” said Ferd Hoefner, Policy Director of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, of which NYFC is a member. “The package outlined today is a first step toward restoring both a sane fiscal policy and a fair farm bill extension.
The bill would cut spending to USDA and the Department of Defense by $27.5 billion each over the next ten years. In agriculture, it would include both the elimination of direct commodity production subsidies (saving $31 billion) and increased spending for programs stranded after last month’s extension (costing $3.5 billion). The bill also increases tax revenues by $110 billion, and pushes off the sequestration for another year. Unless this or another bill passes Congress, sequestration will go into effect on March 1st, thereby reducing every USDA discretionary program by five percent, among other effects.