What is in this article?:
- Cuts to agriculture in the 2012 farm bill: Is it back to square one?
- $23 billion may be floor for cuts
- Communication, collaboration, cooperation
When the “Super Committee” on debt reduction failed to come up with its assigned task of developing at least $1.2 trillion in federal spending cuts, says American Farm Bureau Federation Deputy Executive Director of Public Policy Dale Moore, “the question then became what would happen to the proposed $23 billion in cuts that the leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees had put on the table to try and protect the baseline budget for agriculture and serve as a starting point for the discussions of the new farm bill. More important to some was the question: Can we get back to square one and start the process over?"
$23 billion may be floor for cuts
“But, I really believe that as we go into the farm bill debate, the $23 billion figure will be the floor for the discussion. The number’s unlikely to get smaller. But just how it will be spread out over the multiple titles of the farm bill is anyone’s guess.
“If I were going to guess, I’d think we could still see the proposed $15 billion come out of Title 1 spending, and that there would also be a good chunk that would come out of conservation spending.”
It’s a given, Moore says, that “everybody’s going to have to give up something. The question now is, will the cutting process be fair? And fair depends on whom you’re talking to. If it’s not my program or my issue, then the cuts may seem fair to me. My program or my issue, then I can make a strong case that you can’t cut my program — that it’s an investment in the future. This kind of discussion is about 90 percent of what ‘s going to take place with this farm bill.”
The agriculture committees are likely to keep some elements of the current farm program, he says, “but if you’re going to look at where it’s easiest to pull out money the quickest, it will probably be taking direct payments, ACRE, and SURE out of title one.”
Of those, the program with the greatest likelihood for cuts, Moore says, is SURE — “not because the concept isn’t popular, but just because the program itself has been frustrating to those trying to access it and hasn’t provided what had been hoped.”
Between direct payments and ACRE, there has been something of a “pick the program you want to cut” discussion, he says.
“As the debate has gone forward, the discussion on shallow loss was leading the pack until various groups in different areas of the country pointed to inequities based on their calculations. So, some of them came up with the Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX), others put forth a plan for higher deficiency payments, and American Farm Bureau itself worked on something called the Systemic Risk Reduction Program (SRRP).
“But we were told that we got to the party too late to have SRRP considered, so we sort of stepped back to see where things would go on the over-arching effort to reduce the deficit.
“Now that we’re back to regular order, it gives us an opportunity to try and move ahead with SRRP. But as our president, Bob Stallman, has said, we need to make sure we continue to analyze it thoroughly and get input from all across the country to address concerns that have been or will be raised.”
Moore says he and John Anderson, AFBF economics analyst in Washington, recently met with USDA economists and policy specialists to seek input on where they might see the gaps in the SRRP proposal.
“I think it’s important that we examine all the angles to be sure SRRP will meet the needs of as many as possible with the resources provided.”