Farm Progress

All the talk about ag meeting budget requirements sounds hollow against other spending plans.

Forrest Laws

June 29, 2017

2 Min Read
U.S. Capitol remains a beacon for democracy in action.

As chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Mike Conaway makes a lot of public statements. Each time the Ag Committee holds a hearing, when the chairman attends farm group meetings or when he travels to other public functions, he speaks.

Much of the time, his comments are on the mark. He’s been saying, for example, the farm community should talk about the importance of having an abundant, affordable food supply rather than raising price supports for agriculture.

During an Ag Committee hearing on university research programs in Washington a few days ago, he said: “For more than 100 years, our producers have relied on investments in agricultural research to drive efficiencies and gains in productivity that have helped farmers and ranchers soldier through the toughest of times,” he said in his opening statement.

Then there was this a few lines down: “While I recognize our budget problems can’t be ignored,” he said before explaining why agriculture should be given credit for the contributions it has made on deficit reduction.

What’s wrong with saying our budget problems can’t be ignored? Because a number of people in positions of power in Washington seem prepared to do just that.

Example: Among the myriad executive orders and proposals made by the administration since it took office is a one-page proposal for reforming the nation’s tax code. At least two Washington think tanks estimate the proposal would add at least $6.2 trillion to the deficit.

There’s the administration’s blueprint for upgrading the nation’s transportation infrastructure. Most estimates put the price tag – no matter how much it might be needed – at $1 trillion. And there are its calls for a $64-billion increase in defense spending.

A side note: When Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue appeared at the Delta Council’s annual meeting a few weeks back, he talked about the need for upgrading the nation’s system of locks and dams. The loss of one such structure, many of which are more than 50 years old, could be catastrophic to nearby communities and to the movement of commerce, Perdue noted.

Chairman Conaway, for his part, said the agriculture community has “repeatedly answered the call for reform and has done more than its fair share to help generate savings. The 2014 farm bill was expected to save $23 billion over 10 years, but the most recent Congressional Budget Office projections show it is now on target to save $104 billion.”

The simple truth is this is the richest country in the world, and, yet, we go around poor mouthing about budgets this and budgets that because we’re afraid someone might have to pay a few more dollars in taxes for something that benefits us all.

About the Author(s)

Forrest Laws

Forrest Laws spent 10 years with The Memphis Press-Scimitar before joining Delta Farm Press in 1980. He has written extensively on farm production practices, crop marketing, farm legislation, environmental regulations and alternative energy. He resides in Memphis, Tenn. He served as a missile launch officer in the U.S. Air Force before resuming his career in journalism with The Press-Scimitar.

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