Agriculture Committee Leader Letter Sent to Super Committee
October 17th, 2011
Over the weekend we reported the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees had not finalized their letter to the congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (also known as the Super Committee) recommended cuts to farm bill programs. That letter became final today and has been sent to the Super Committee.
As we reported earlier, the Agriculture Committee leadership is proposing a net reduction of $23 billion over the next ten years from the farm bill. According to an article by David Rogers at Politico.com, the structure discussed by the leadership includes at $14 to $15 billion reduction to commodity program payments, a $6.5 billion reduction to conservation programs, and a $4 to $5 billion reduction in nutrition programs including food stamps. Those cuts would translate to a 20+, 10, and less than one percent reduction for commodities, conservation, and nutrition, respectively.
In today’s letter, the leaders of the two Agriculture Committee announced their intention to provide detailed legislation to achieve these spending cut goals by November 1, just two weeks from today. If they fulfill that goal, it would be the fastest farm bill decision-making process ever.
Of particular concern to NSAC is the size of the conservation reduction, which comes on top of a $3 billion reduction to farm bill conservation mandatory spending already made via the annual appropriations process, as noted in today’s letter from the Agriculture Committee leaders. Those cuts together with the ones being discussed by the Agriculture Committees would equal a combined cut of 15 percent, effectively wiping out all the gains made in the 2008 Farm Bill and about 40 percent of the gains made all the way back in the 2002 Farm Bill and moving dramatically backwards on the greening of the farm bill.
We are also quite concerned with the reported $25 billion total cut, which would leave far too little money available above the $23 billion net cut to renew funding for existing farm bill mandatory programs that run out of funding in 2012. Our support or non-support for the farm bill product emerging on November 1 will hinge in part on the renewal of funding for key rural development, beginning and minority farmer, local food, organic farming, and renewable energy programs.
NSAC’s own letter to the Super Committee is available here.