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Dairy Crisis
NFU on Ryan Budget: We Must Learn from the Past PDF Print E-mail

March 20, 2012

Contact: Melisa Augusto, 202-314-3191
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Tony Jarboe, 202-314-3104
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WASHINGTON (March 20, 2012) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement following U.S. House of Representatives Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan for Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) announcement today:

“Once again, we see that Congress is attempting to balance the budget on the backs of rural America. The proposed cuts to Agriculture spending would severely constrain the ability of the next farm bill to provide policy that protects against yield losses and when markets collapse.

“The House Budget Committee report includes language that net farm income has been high in recent years, but as farmers, we know that with our current policies, good times do not last. Policymakers should look to what happened around the 1996 Farm Bill, when lawmakers saw relatively high farm prices as a reason to remove most of the farm safety net. When prices fell in the late 1990s, billions of dollars were spent to keep farmers on the farm when a modest investment in the 1996 Farm Bill would have prevented the calamity. We must learn from the past.

“Agriculture has been ready and willing to do its part in reducing the federal deficit, but Rep. Ryan’s budget proposes total cuts to farm bill spending of more than $155 billion. A cut of more than $33 billion to the safety net over the next ten years is too much. This is $10 billion more than the agreement reached late last year in a bipartisan, bicameral manner by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. Beyond the spending reductions for farm safety net programs, the House FY13 budget would slash nearly $122.5 billion over the next 10 years from support for our nation’s undernourished by converting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) into block grants. Cuts to these vital support programs are irresponsible in a time of economic recovery.

“These proposed budget cuts highlight the importance of looking for new solutions in agriculture policy to ensure that farmers and ranchers are protected even as available funding decreases. 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.”

National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.