February 17, 2006
Agriculture targeted in proposed budget
President Bush has released his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2007 and the folks at the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) aren't happy.
"Unfortunately, agriculture is going to take more than its share of the cuts," said AFBF farm policy specialist Mary Kay Thatcher.
Thatcher says 8 percent of the cuts in the President's proposal come from agriculture, even though the agriculture budget is only 1/2 of 1 percent of the total budget.
"You're looking at some fairly major reductions in payment limitations which will be especially hurtful when you think about cotton and rice farmers in the south," she said. "You're looking at hits of 5 percent in marketing loans, 5 percent in direct fixed payments, and a 5 percent cut in counter-cyclical [payments]."
Thatcher said she hopes Congress will see the agricultural cuts as excessive and bad for World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations.
"We think it's crazy to think that the administration would come out right now and ask for cuts in farm programs when we're in the middle of World Trade Organization negotiations," she said. "If we take that kind of cut now, all we do is give ourselves less leverage to work against other countries to bring down their tariffs."
Thatcher said many of the proposals included in the President's budget are the same proposals they floated last year.
"We worked long and hard to defeat many of those proposals and we'll have to work again for the next eight to 10 months to defeat them this time," she said.
Farm numbers show small drop
Total land in farms in 2005 was 933.400 million acres compared to 936.295 million acres a year prior. Farms averaged 444 acres, one acre higher than in 2004.
Food Check-Out Week celebrated
Another effort to close FSA offices?
Plans to consolidate local offices were scrapped last year after a roar of complaints from farmers resulted in Congress blocking the move.
"I don't want to close offices just to be closing offices. The only reason we would be closing offices is to provide better service," Lasseter was quoted by the Associated Press.
She said any new program for closing offices will not be overly aggressive and will involve lawmakers.
Several FSA office managers have noted how short staffed they are and how they are using antiquated equipment.
Two-employee offices require extreme multi-tasking by employees dealing with a huge array of programs, they claim.
Also, some computers are extremely slow and without Internet connection capabilities.
Farmers walking into a low-staffed office often have to wait exceedingly long times, the managers say.
Congressman Randy Neugebauer (R-Lubbock), commenting on President Bush's FY 2007 budget proposal that would reduce the payment limit cap for individuals to $250,000 for all commodity payments, including all types of marketing loan gains while removing the three-entity rule and making marketing loans recourse over the payment limit.