The American Soybean Association (ASA) expressed disappointment in the Obama Administration’s proposals to cut funding for key farm programs, federal crop insurance, and the Market Access Program (MAP).

“ASA opposed similar proposals by the Administration last year that would have reopened the 2008 Farm Bill and undercut long-term economic decisions by soybean producers,” said ASA President Rob Joslin, a soybean producer from Sidney, Ohio. “They were bad ideas then, and they are bad ideas now. Agriculture spending, not including nutrition programs, is projected to account for just over one-half of one percent of next year’s $3.8 trillion budget. Cutting the farm safety net to achieve minimal savings would jeopardize an industry that continues to be a key driver for U.S. economic recovery and export growth.” Joslin’s comments followed release of the President’s Budget for FY-2011, which proposes to reduce the cap on Direct Payments to farmers by 25 percent, from $40,000 to $30,000. The President’s budget also proposes to reduce by $250,000 each, the Adjusted Gross Income limits that can be earned from farm and non-farm sources in order to be eligible for farm and conservation payments.

The Administration is also proposing changes in the federal crop insurance program that would reduce its cost by $8 billion over 10 years. “Congress already considered these proposals during debate on the 2008 Farm Bill, and rejected them again last year,” Joslin said. “While there may be need for reform in crop insurance administrative payments to companies, any savings should be reinvested to make the program more widely accepted in parts of the country where farmers don’t participate.”

Another proposal would cut spending under MAP, which funds export promotion activities, by 20 percent, or $40 million per year. Noting the Administration’s proposed increase in funding for other export activities, including the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, Joslin stated that “ASA would support increasing funding for FMD, but not at the expense of MAP.” ASA strongly endorses the proposed increase in funding for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), from $262 million this year to $429 million in FY-2011.

“Agriculture research was left out of last year’s economic stimulus package, while other research sectors received billions of federal dollars,” Joslin said. “Research is the driving force behind innovation in American agriculture, and this proposed increased in AFRI funding is needed for long-term economic growth of the agricultural and food sectors of our economy.”

ASA represents all U.S. soybean farmers on domestic and international issues of importance to the soybean industry. ASA’s advocacy efforts are made possible through the voluntary membership in ASA by over 22,500 farmers in 31 states where soybeans are grown.