As Congress looks to reduce funding to lower the federal deficit, agriculture has once again found itself at the forefront of the chopping block.

National Sorghum Producers joined 132 other agricultural organizations Tuesday in a letter to President Barack Obama, Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House John Boehner expressing strong opposition to any deficit reduction package that would disproportionately impact America's farmers and ranchers.

The letter states, “We have expressed a willingness to shoulder a proportionate share of budget reductions in relation to the share of the budget devoted to farm and ranch assistance. In fact, we may have been the only sector to step forward, despite our having already been cut three times in the past six years, most recently with significant cuts to crop insurance. 

“While our members support efforts to bring down the deficit and debt in an orderly and comprehensive manner, we cannot in good faith support deficit reduction efforts that target U.S. farmers and ranchers for disproportionately large cuts to the small percentage of the mandatory budget devoted to supporting agriculture.”

A copy of the letter can be found at www.sorghumgrowers.com.

Concurrently, the House Tuesday began consideration of the FY 12 Agriculture Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2112) with no limitation on the number of amendments that can be offered. Several harmful amendments to agriculture are already on the table, including two amendments that would destroy or severely cripple the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS).

Also proposed, is an amendment to reduce funding to the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) by $7 million and an amendment to cut $7.5 million from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). More than $104 million has been proposed to be cut from USAID Food for Peace Title II Grants, which uses U.S.-grown commodities to provide food aid to countries in need.

Also on the defensive this week were important tax credits for ethanol blenders. A measure backed by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) aimed at repealing the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) failed in the Senate Tuesday with a 40-59 vote.

NSP thanks its members for their help and support in getting the amendment voted down, as it threatened the nation’s efforts to reduce its dependence on foreign oil.

To learn more about NSP, visit www.sorghumgrowers.com.