Tuesday, September 20, 2011

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Responds To President Obama's Deficit Plan

Today the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition issued a statement about President Obama's proposed cuts and changes to agriculture programs, unveiled Monday as part of his deficit reduction plan. The NSAC is an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities. Policy Director Ferd Hoefner issued the statement, which includes a letter [PDF] that will be sent to the Super Committee, as well as a nine-page document that details NSAC's 2012 Farm Bill Platform [PDF]. The GOP Ag response IS HERE.

NASC's statement:

Washington, D.C. September 20, 2011 -- The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition urged the congressional deficit reduction or super committee today to take a policy and reform-oriented approach to reducing total farm bill spending while renewing investments in underfunded areas including new farmers, rural development, conservation, renewable energy, agricultural research, and new market development.

The NSAC letter to the Committee urged them to resist further cuts to farm conservation beyond the $2 billion Congress has already cut since the 2008 Farm Bill, to place hard caps on farm commodity and crop and revenue insurance subsidies, to end subsidies for the conversion of prime grasslands, to renew funding for critical mandatory farm bill programs that have no secured baselines after the end of the current farm bill cycle in 2012, and to protect anti-hunger programs from cuts.

A more detailed nine page document accompanies the letter and includes the full scope of the NSAC farm bill budget proposal.

NSAC Policy Director Ferd Hoefner contrasted the NSAC view with the farm bill cuts proposed by President Obama yesterday:

The Obama proposal holds promise, especially in the call for the end of direct payments. The farm bill cuts the President offered, however, are disproportionate to the size of the farm bill budget relative to total federal mandatory spending. In addition to the unfair size of the cut, the Administration proposal has three other problems.

First, the Administration would cut direct payments without offering a new alternative safety net proposal, even while proposing to leave a largely failed disaster program in place at a very substantial total cost equaling roughly half of the total savings. Disaster assistance should be built into the new safety net at a significantly lower cost, and eliminated as a free-standing program.

Second, all of the subsidies they do propose to leave in place are available without any effective limit on the size of the subsidy any one farm can receive. As such, they would focus the cuts on small and mid-sized farms, while allowing the largest farms continued access to the loopholes currently written into law to largely avoid the cuts that apply to everyone else.

Third, they do not take account of the dire need to put money into farm, food, and rural programs that create jobs, new business opportunities, and new healthy food options but that have shrinking or soon to be non-existent budgets.

The NSAC proposals by contrast would keep farm bill cuts at more equitable levels, target cuts so that the largest and wealthiest farms would actually have to contribute to deficit reduction, and align spending policies with widely supported public values with respect to increasing farm and rural economic opportunity, conserving natural resources and protecting the environment, and improving access to healthy food.


No comments:

Post a Comment