Debate Over $100 Billion in Cuts Hits Floor of the House

February 18, 2011 Bookmark and Share

NAWG and other agricultural groups acted quickly this week to counter a budget proposal that would cut 22 percent of discretionary agriculture funding for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year and a series of amendments that could seriously impact priority programs.

A proposal to cut $100 billion from the federal government’s spending over the remainder of FY2011, which ends Sept. 30, was released late Friday by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) following the rejection by conservative Republicans of a prior proposal that would have cut more than $74 billion from the Obama Administration’s FY2011 budget proposal.

The cuts in the bill, H.R. 1, would take 22 percent from programs covered under the House Appropriations Committee’s agriculture subcommittee, which includes the farm safety net, conservation programs, export market development programs, rural development programs, domestic and international food aid programs and the Food and Drug Administration and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

That percentage is more than double the average proposed cut to non-defense discretionary spending, an amount NAWG and other agriculture groups believe is highly disproportionate and likely to undermine agriculture programs important to our food and national security.

On Tuesday, NAWG and more than 30 other agriculture organizations wrote all members of the House supporting moves to cut spending, but also expressing concerns about the agriculture proposals and requesting changes to bring equity to the process.

Also proposed this week have been upwards of 600 amendments to H.R. 1, which is being considered under a rare open rule in the House, meaning any Member can propose amendments.

NAWG activated its state associations and grower-leaders to call Members of the House this week on amendments that would hit NAWG priorities, including amendments to:

  • eliminate funding for the Market Access Program (MAP), which helps wheat producers promote wheat sales overseas.
  • impose more stringent payment limits on farm programs than those written in the 2008 Farm Bill, though the law does not expire until 2012.
  • terminate settlement payments in the Brazil cotton case that are staving off severe retaliatory measures against U.S. agriculture.
  • prevent resolution of the ongoing NAFTA trucking dispute with Mexico without a vote of Congress.
  • prevent implementation of an Environmental Protection Agency decision allowing E15 use in most passenger cars.

NAWG also asked state associations and grower leaders to voice support for amendments to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirements in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and new standards for particulate matter, or dust, regulation.

NAWG will continue to follow and update states about the progress of these and other amendments of interest. At press time, a marathon floor debate on the bill continued, with a final vote expected late Friday or early Saturday morning before the House goes into a one-week, Presidents’ Day recess.

Even if ultimately approved in the House, many of the cuts will be strongly challenged in the Democratic-controlled Senate, though either a compromise or another short-term continuing resolution will be necessary to avoid a government shutdown when the current funding bill expires on March 4.

Also, on Tuesday, the Office of Management and Budget issued a Statement of Administration Policy effectively saying that President Barack Obama would veto the bill as written.

More about the importance of agriculture spending in the federal budget and the commodity group letter sent this week is at www.wheatworld.org/budget.