President Releases FY 2017 Budget Recommendations, Not Very Ag-Friendly

Thanks, Obama
Feb 10, 2016
WASHINGTON, DC -- The President’s recommendations for the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) funding were up in some program areas and down in others with net cuts to the Department’s activities by more than $4.5 billion, down seven percent from the 2016 level.  Crop insurance was once again a target of the Administration’s proposal with $18 billion worth of cuts over ten years.  Specifically, the budget proposal suggests a 10 percent reduction in premium subsidies for policy holders electing the harvest price option and additional savings would be generated by reforming prevented planting coverage.

Also recommended were $20 million in cuts to the McGovern-Dole Food for Education program and $116 million in cuts to the P.L. 480 (Food for Peace) program which provides food aid procurement and delivery.

On a positive note, the budget calls for doubling of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, the USDA’s competitive grant program to $700 million for FY 2017.  Also, for the first time a $1.5 million line item for staffing USDA personnel at the recently opened U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba.

Dr. Steve Linscombe, rice breeder and USA Rice member who serves as regional director of the Louisiana State University AgCenter in Crowley, said, “I’m pleased to see support for the agriculture research field.  Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grants definitely help to keep the LSU AgCenter’s projects going.”

The Administration’s budget recommendations are not enforceable and largely used as messaging to Congress.  The House and Senate Budget Committees are not expected to invite the Administration to Capitol Hill to present their recommendations, signaling widespread disapproval.