What is in this article?:
- Ag budget cut responses follow party lines
- Employees stretched
- Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas (11thCongressional District), says it’s too early to say cuts in the FSA budget are too severe but that if the agency’s mission is compromised Congress will need to reassess the situation.
- Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas (28thCongressional District), says agriculture has already made significant contributions to deficit reduction and to continue to target a program that accounts for less than one-half of 1 percent of a $3.5 trillion budget is short-sighted.
- These cuts could result in delays in producer payments and services at a time when many farmers are facing the most severe drought we've seen in decades.
Response to significant budget cuts from Texas members of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee split along party lines. And FSA employees’ association members say the cuts could affect the agency’s efficiency.
Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, says it’s too early to say cuts in the FSA budget are too severe but that if the agency’s mission is compromised Congress will need to reassess the situation.
“I have no doubt that the reductions dealt to the FSA present complications, but I’ve told farmers, ranchers, small business owners, and the like throughout my district that tough times lie ahead with respect to funding across all sectors and levels of the federal government. Unfortunately, the FSA is no exception.
“I believe it’s premature to say that the reductions go too far,” he said. “As I understand it, while the way FSA conducts business may change, the business of FSA will not. It will continue to offer the same services that it always has. I have full faith that as we necessarily move towards a leaner government, and as the dedicated employees of FSA begin to further prioritize actions, they will continue to deliver program benefits and constantly reassess the various methods in which they conduct business.”
Conaway said he believes Congress must give FSA the flexibility to adapt to an “ever-changing environment. We have to trust that they are handling their budget situation as they know best. Members of Congress must resist the temptation to micromanage this transition. If we do not, we risk sacrificing FSA’s ability to grow and adjust to changing circumstances in the name of political expediency.”
If the FSA can no longer carry out mission critical deliveries, he said, then Congress will reassess the cuts contained in the Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution that its leaders negotiated with President Obama to avoid a shutdown of the federal government in March.
“But it is my position that it must be demonstrated that the job can’t be completed before we begin that process,” he noted. “We simply don’t have evidence that that is yet the case.”
On the opposite side of the aisle, Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, says agriculture has already made significant contributions to deficit reduction and to continue to target a program that accounts for less than one-half of 1 percent of a $3.5 trillion budget is short-sighted.
“We need to reduce the deficit,” he said, “but agriculture has already sacrificed enough. That’s why I voted against the agricultural appropriations bill. Cuts to the agricultural industry are too severe.”
Cuellar said Texas and other states have already lost significant parts of their Farm Service Agency budgeting. Texas FSA 2011 funding was reduced by $2.3 million compared to 2010 expenditures, due to the cuts imposed in the FY2011 Continuing Resolution.
Congressman Cuellar was driving through West Texas observing drought conditions when he called Southwest Farm Press and said the extreme heat and drought that grips the entire state, along with other natural disasters that have hit other states, could put a burden on FSA efficiency.