Proposed USDA cuts concern Iowa lawmakers

Volunteers with Catholic Charities' St. Maria's meals program in Washington D.C

Volunteers with Catholic Charities St. Maria's meals program in Washington D.C

Financial cuts could trickle down from Pennsylvania Avenue to Main Street under the President's budget proposal, which would eliminate 21 percent of the Agriculture Department's discretionary spending.

The budget proposal also seeks another $95 million in savings from the USDA's Rural Business and Cooperative Service, which supports the development of small businesses and job training for rural people through loans, technical and educational support, as well as broadband access.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, on Thursday said he is pleased that President Donald Trump's budget would increase military spending and cut the Environmental Protection Agency, but is anxious about the proposed cuts to the Agriculture Department.

"He's not in a position to put together his staff to evaluate the programs and defend USDA's budget for 2018 as things go forward", Steinkruger said.

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos of Illinois, Co-Chair of the Democratic Policy & Communications Committee, Congressman John Yarmuth, Ranking Member on the Budget Committee, Congressman Collin Peterson, Ranking Member on the Agriculture Committee, and Congressman Tom O'Halleran of Arizona today held a press conference highlighting the devastating impact President Trump's FY2018 budget blueprint would have on hard-working American families, especially those living in rural America.

"Rural America provides a tremendous service to this country but I don't think the Administration understands that,"said Congressman Collin Peterson. "The budget cuts programs that help our smaller communities be able to update their water systems and farmers navigate farm programs". Cuts to USDA and other programs are being made to make room for proposed $54 billion increases in defense, $2.6 billion for a border wall and $1.4 billion for school choice. Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue was nominated for Agriculture secretary post but still hasn't been confirmed. Farm incomes are down 50 percent from four years ago, he added. "We need not only a secretary, but a deputy and lots of undersecretaries there sooner rather than later". They would not affect most commodity and conservation programs or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps.

"Every farmer in the US goes to those USDA offices", said Newton.

Another area singled out for cuts is USDA's "statistical capabilities". Beck said. "If they don't know what the statistics are, what's out there, what's going on, it's very hard to make those decisions".

Moreover, he said the USDA research is used to help settle markets and for price discovery to help industry participants.

The proposal would cut spending at the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent and the Department of Education by 14 percent.

"This budget cuts investments in programs that have a proven record of creating jobs and growing the economy", U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa City, said.

The U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade, as well as a number of the individual organizations, have written the administration pledging "to work actively and constructively with the administration in preserving the major benefits of the North American Free Trade Agreement to the sector while seeking further improvements to modernize the 23-year-old accord".

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