NFU Urges Congress To Reject Bush's Ag Cuts
The National Farmers' Union late Monday afternoon urged Congress to reject President Bush's $17 billion in cuts in agriculture spending.
"I think it is wrong for President Bush to try to balance the budget on the backs of rural Americans," said NFU President Dave Frederickson. "Agricultural programs are not the cause of the record federal deficit and, therefore, should not be the solution."
Frederickson said U.S. farm programs were written by Congress and signed into law by Pres. Bush in 2002 with the intentions that farmers and ranchers would have an adequate safety net through 2007. During the first three years of the new farm bill, farm program spending has totaled $15 billion less than originally projected.
"If all federal program spending would have been as fiscally responsible as agricultural spending, we would not be facing the highest federal budget deficit in our nation's history," Frederickson said.
"To propose cuts in the safety net prior to the WTO negotiations will put U.S. farmers at a disadvantage in the international marketplace, further compounding our abililty to compete."
Frederickson said commodity prices have plummeted while input costs have escalated, and for the first time in half a century, the United States is becoming a net importer of food. "This is simply the wrong move, at the wrong time, and for the wrong reason."
The NFU and a coalition of 117 other groups sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns last week opposing the cuts that would undermine nutrition, conservation, crop insurance and farm programs.