WASHINGTON -- The House Agriculture Committee adopted today its budget views and estimates letter
to outline the committee's fiscal year 2014 recommendations for agencies and programs under its jurisdiction. The federal farm safety net now constitutes less than one quarter of 1 percent of the government's total budget, the letter says. Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and the Ranking Democrat, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), signed and will send the letter to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI).
The committee's main focus this year "will be on reauthorizing the farm bill...and improving on the product the committee passed last year," the letter says. "The committee believes the best way to achieve deficit reduction is in the context of the reauthorization of the farm bill with sustainable and fiscally responsible reforms."
The committee's letter highlighted the significant declines in farm bill budgets, including the cost of commodity programs, which have come in below Congressional Budget Office projections by an average of $1.2 billion per year since 2002. In addition, the letter called attention to other savings: $35 billion in last year's committee passed farm bill; an estimated $6.8 billion in the 2008 farm bill's crop insurance program; and the more than $6 billion achieved through renegotiation of the crop insurance program's Standard Reinsurance Agreement.
With current agricultural economy and farm prices strong, some people may say now would be a good time to cut the nation's agricultural policies even further, Lucas and Peterson said, but doing this "ignores lessons from history." They said agriculture's economy is highly cyclical and having a sound farm policy in place when record high commodity prices fall, which they will do inevitably, "is vital not just for producers but for the entire national economy."
"Recent high prices have not made...family [farm] enterprises...any less vulnerable -- indeed it has just raised the stakes in what is still an exceptionally costly, risky business," the committee leaders said.
During some of the worst economic times in the last 50 years, production agriculture has served as a catalyst for economic growth nationally, the lawmakers noted. Last year alone, U.S. farmers and ranchers produced $470 billion of goods after spending $250 billion to purchase inputs; made $72 billion in rent payments; paid $26 billion in wages to employees; and spent $15 billion in interest and financing.
Contact: Johnny Broussard, (703) 236-1451