The American Farm Bureau Federation recently joined a broad coalition of 218 farm, rural, hunger-relief and agribusiness groups in a letter outlining the importance of agriculture program funding and urging the Senate and House budget committees to preserve funding for Agriculture Department programs.

The coalition letter urged the House and Senate budget committees to preserve the agriculture budget for mandatory and discretionary programs by not including “any reconciliation instructions in the budget resolution to the Senate Committee on Agriculture or the House Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.”

The letter notes that the 2002 farm bill was enacted three years ago “and represents a delicate balance by effectively addressing the stability of our agricultural production base, protecting our important natural resources, enhancing nutrition and food assistance programs in our nation, and providing adequate research funding for our future.”

The letter explains that the mandatory programs administered by the Agriculture Department are broad-based and of “enormous importance to farmers, ranchers, businesses, low-income Americans and all our nation's children.”

“We urge the (House and Senate) budget committees to adequately fund discretionary spending,” the coalition letter stated. “Given the cuts agricultural programs have already sustained over the last several years, we ask that you not adopt a discretionary spending level that requires agricultural programs to take additional budget reductions.”