Leaders of the Congressional Agriculture Committees told the debt-deficit super committee this week that mandatory agriculture and nutrition programs should take $23 billion in cuts as part of the overall effort to cut $1.5 trillion from the federal budget.
The recommendation came Monday in a letter signed by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.); Senate Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-Kan.); House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.); and House Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.).
In a statement released simultaneously by the four leaders, they indicated they will continue working together to fashion a detailed proposal for the spending cuts, which is expected to be submitted to the super committee by Nov. 1.
They noted in their letter that $23 billion in cuts is more than would be achieved through a sequestration process and would come in addition to multiple cuts to programs within their jurisdictions in recent years.
Crop insurance was cut $6 billion during the recent renegotiation of the contract between USDA and private crop insurance companies, in addition to $6 billion in cuts in the 2008 Farm Bill and $2 billion in cuts in the 2002 Farm Bill.
In addition, conservation programs have been cut by $3 billion during the last five years; key nutrition programs have been cut by nearly $12 billion in recent years to offset other spending; and there are 37 programs, totaling nearly $10 billion, which expire in this farm bill cycle with no baseline into future years.
The leaders also noted their effort to work on a bipartisan basis, which seems to be unique to the Agriculture Committees but will be essential to producing a legislative proposal equivalent to a 2012 Farm Bill that is acceptable to constituents of all agriculture-area programs.
The recommendation this week hued closely to information NAWG grower-leaders and staff have received in recent meetings on Capitol Hill.
NAWG will continue to work with agriculture industry partners and Members over the next few weeks as ag leaders draft their legislative proposal for super committee consideration.