Washington, D.C.–The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) today expressed its strong opposition to the disproportionate cuts to farm programs contained in the Senate proposal to defer budget sequestration cuts. The Senate bill would cut $31 billion from the farm bill, all of which would come from the commodity title of the bill; it would include elimination of direct payments.
“No producer, no co-op across the country doubts the need for our federal government to get its spending more in line with revenue—agriculture has always stood ready to contribute its fair share to deficit reduction,” said Chuck Conner, president and CEO of NCFC. “Unfortunately, the Senate proposal fails to treat farmers equitably. The only parts of the budget taking cuts under this proposal are defense and agriculture. It should also be noted that this cut would be three times what agriculture would contribute to deficit reduction if the sequestration process is allowed to move forward on its own.”
“The larger issue is that the proposal targets only a tiny sliver of the farm bill budget for cuts–over three quarters of farm bill spending goes towards nutrition programs like SNAP and these programs will not contribute a single penny towards deficit reduction under this proposal,” he continued. “Less than a year ago, the Senate found savings of $4.5 billion from SNAP when they overwhelmingly passed a new five-year farm bill; I think that farmers have the right to ask their Senators why these cuts have gone from acceptable to unacceptable in less than 10 months.”
Conner also expressed concern that the end result of the cuts would also have a disproportionate impact on certain commodities and certain regions of the country; in effect, while the proposal is bad for all of row crop agriculture, its burdens will be placed heavily on those in the South, among other places. In addition, he noted that the Senate proposal would severely limit the resources available to write a new five-year farm bill before the current extension of the last bill expires in September.