The Trump administration’s FY19 budget was released l Monday and would reduce USDA’s budget by 25% making draconian cuts in the sustainable food and agriculture world. Since all of us eat and depend on agriculture and the people who farm, it is everyone’s responsibility to understand the impact a budget like this would have. If these cuts come to pass, rural communities, farmers, ranchers and those in need of nutrition assistance will suffer greatly.
The Organic Exclusion
Trump’s budget would eliminate The Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) that funds research and education to solve critical organic agriculture issues and helps establish priorities for the organic community.
There would be no money for the Organic Transitions Program (ORG) to support the development and implementation of education programs to help farmers transitioning to organic production.
Gutting Conservation Efforts
It would eradicate our largest and most comprehensive conservation program, the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). This program currently covers over 72 million acres of productive agricultural and forest land. It enhances our natural resources and helps farmers and ranchers improve their businesses.
It would also eliminate the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCCP) that supports targeted conservation projects, administered in partnership with non-federal entities.
Razing Rural Development
Trump is proposing zero funding for The Rural Business and Cooperative Service that provides loans, grants and payments intended to increase opportunities in rural communities.
He would eliminate the Economic Development Administration that provides federal grants to communities in support of locally-developed economic plans.
Leaving the Hungry Behind
A $214 billion reduction of food assistance programs will leave many hungry with substantial cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Spending would be cut by 30 percent over the next decade through cutting enrollment by 10 percent.
Perhaps the most controversial proposal was to replace half of recipients’ benefits with a monthly box of shelf-stable food grown in the US. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue spoke highly of the idea of “America’s Harvest Box” which would include edibles like shelf-stable milk, peanut butter, canned meat, poultry and cereal.
The budget would also eliminate the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education that donates agricultural commodities and financial assistance to carry out school feeding programs in foreign countries.
Catatonic Climate Disregard
The Global Climate Change Initiative would be completely erased. This reflects Trump’s decision last year to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and puts our nation behind in fighting climate change.
Insult to Injury: Dashing Programs Dear to our Hearts and Minds
Altogether 22 programs are set to be eliminated if the President gets his way. Among them is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds public television and radio stations including PBS and NPR. The Institute of Museum and Library Services, which funds museums and libraries nationwide with grants, and The National Endowment for the Arts, which gives American artists and projects grants, are also included.
Time To Contact Congress
Remember it is Congress who holds the purse strings and actually passes the FY19 budget. Many Congressional leaders say these proposed cuts are preposterous. What this budget does is reflect the mindset of the Administration and how it values food and farming.
The National Sustainable Ag Coalition weighed in that “In addition to harming American family farmers, the proposal will strip rural communities of tools and resources needed for job creation and enterprise development, deny low-income individuals and families critical nutrition support, damage the health of our natural resources, and undercut years of advancements in agricultural research and seed breeding.”
If you feel the same please urge your Members of Congress to reject the President’s budget and instead pass one that is good for families, farmers, and the environment. Do it today!