NFU Opposes Budget Cuts to Farm Policy

March 16, 2010

WASHINGTON (March 16, 2010)—One of the nation’s biggest agricultural trade groups underscored its support of the farm safety net, including crop insurance, at its annual conference today and overwhelmingly passed a resolution opposing needless budget cuts to farm policy.

The National Farmers Union (NFU), which represents more than 250,000 family farmers, adopted the policy at a time when budget deficits are swelling in Washington, DC, and lawmakers are in search of ways to slash spending. But, agriculture already received cuts during the 2008 farm bill, and being singled out for an additional reduction is unwarranted, according to the resolution.

NFU specifically pointed out the danger of adopting proposed cuts to crop insurance and highlighted the significant return-on-investment taxpayers receive with farm policy.

This stance is consistent with statements made by key lawmakers opposing cuts.

The resolution passed by NFU reads:

FEDERAL FARM PROGRAM PRIORITIES

WHEREAS, the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 became law after years of debate, tens of thousands of hours of policy research and analysis, input from thousands of citizens and hundreds of interest groups, two presidential vetoes and two subsequent congressional veto override votes; and

WHEREAS, the 2008 Farm Bill provided a framework for building a strong agricultural economy by enacting a variety of initiatives that included funding crop insurance and permanent disaster relief programs, maintaining emergency income supports for dairy farmers, establishing supply management plans for commodities such as sugar, and placing greater emphasis on effective conservation efforts; and

WHEREAS, the 2008 Farm Bill established a general baseline funding level for all agricultural programs under the jurisdiction of the bill; and

WHEREAS, the President’s 2010 budget proposal cut $6.9 billion from crop insurance, which could severely weaken one of the most important safety nets for farmers and would likely take money away from the next Farm Bill baseline; and

WHEREAS, the Farm Bill and related agricultural programs comprise less than one-quarter of one percent of total federal expenditures, making it a wise investment in securing the world’s leading affordable, safe and nutritious food supply, and any reductions in the level of farm program funding could significantly damage the American food system; and

WHEREAS, should a reconciliation proclamation come from the President in 2011, all programs could face budget cuts; and

WHEREAS, past reconciliations have shown that commodity programs, crop insurance, research and rural development are likely to be reduced more than nutrition and conservation programs;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that any reduction in the agriculture spending budget should be at the same percentage across all federal programs and congressional committees; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that special emphasis should be placed on preserving agricultural programs such as crop insurance, permanent disaster relief, dairy and commodity supports, the Feedstock Flexibility Program for Bioenergy Producers, the no-cost sugar program and other federal initiatives to strengthen agricultural and rural economies; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that National Farmers Union will defend these policies, which are of vital importance to family farmers and ranchers, that were included in the 2008 Farm Bill.