WASHINGTON (Feb. 13, 2012) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement after President Barack Obama unveiled his budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2013:
“The president’s budget proposal for FY 2013 would cut agriculture programs by $32 billion over ten years, which is $9 billion than the agreement reached late last year in a bipartisan, bicameral manner by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees.
“Agriculture has and continues to do more than its fair share toward reducing the federal deficit. Efforts to cut even more by slashing support for family farmers should be directed elsewhere. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the closing of 259 facilities across the country because of these draconian budget cuts. The ‘cut-first, ask questions later’ attitude in Congress is now showing its true costs.
“These budget cuts highlight a reality that we must look for new solutions within the agriculture industry to ensure that farmers and ranchers are protected even as the available funds diminish. Farmers need a safety net for difficult times – when markets collapse and when disaster strikes. The Market-Driven Inventory System (MDIS), which NFU and the University of Tennessee have been recently developing, would help to do just that. Had it been in place from 1998 to 2010, the federal government would have saved about 60 percent in farm program spending compared to the costs of the programs that were actually implemented during that period.
“NFU appreciates that the proposed FY 2013 budget maintains strong support for natural resource conservation and environmental issues, but we are concerned that funding is permanently reduced for many key conservation programs. Because we are in a farm bill reauthorization year, this will further exacerbate the budget hole for agriculture programs. This makes the passage and completion of a farm bill in 2012 an imperative but difficult task for the Congress and the administration.
“While we were not pleased with the decrease in funding levels, we were pleased with the renewable energy initiatives and the drive to increase America’s energy independence. The president’s budget also emphasizes food safety, food security, and increased nutrition and obesity reduction.
“Our nation’s family farmers and ranchers provide us with the safest, most affordable, most abundant food supply in the world. As a matter of national security we must support them.”