Proposed USDA cuts worry Iowa lawmakers

White House Budget Slashes USDA Funding, May Cut Popular Conservation Programs

In her statement, Heitkamp called the budget a blueprint for Trump's priorities but said it leaves North Dakota and rural communities behind. The work they do is critical.

Hladik says many parts of rural America did not recover fully from the Great Recession that started almost a decade ago.

The Trump administration is seeking to cut $4.7 billion from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's discretionary spending budget, according to a budget outline obtained by The Washington Post, but the administration, so far, has provided little information about how it will carry out the cuts. Under former President Barack Obama, the program was reduced by $273 million between fiscal 2015 and 2016.

Specific USDA areas targeted for cuts include its statistical capabilities and staffing at its county-level service centers. Farm groups warned that farmers and rural communities could suffer. Net farm income has dropped 50 per cent in the last four years-the largest four-year percentage decrease since the Great Depression.

"Now we look to Congress to provide the resources necessary to help America's farmers and ranchers through this very hard period", the groups wrote. In addition, the Budget focuses in-house research funding within the Agricultural Research Service to the highest priority agriculture and food issues such as increasing farming productivity, sustaining natural resources, including those within rural communities, and addressing food safety and nutrition priorities.

It does not cover "mandatory" spending established by law, like farm subsidies, only "discretionary" programs where lawmakers can adjust spending.

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The administration plans to eliminate its water and waste-disposal loan and grant program, which helps with rural water and waste infrastructure, for a savings of about $500 million.

The administration's budget also seeks to cut funding for the Rural Business-Cooperative Service that supports business development and job growth in rural areas.

The administration proposal is still vague, however, with little indication of how the cuts would actually play out.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition released a statement saying they believe members of Congress will not go along with much of what the president is proposing - especially when the implications and impacts of the proposed cuts reach the Agriculture Appropriations subcommittees. Johnson says that just hurts the overall USA economy.

Robert Lascano, the acting research leader at the USDA here in Lubbock, also hammered home the fact that this was merely a recommended bill sent to Congress by the Trump administration.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, said in a statement Trump's proposal to reduce federal agriculture programs by $4.7 billion "does not work" and can not be justified. Other cuts making headlines Thursday included cuts to the community development block grants that in part service Meals on Wheels, energy assistance programs to help low-income families pay for electricity costs, and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers that provide after school and summer programs for children in low-income communities.

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