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Obama Budget: Unfriendly To Conservation Programs, To Farmers And To Food Security


“No we can’t” could be the new mantra for the Obama administration, at least when it comes to funding needed conservation programs and assistance to the nation’s food producers.

According to recent news reports (see accompanying article in today’s Soybean E-Digest, Soy Pod Extra Section), President Obama is proposing some stiff cuts to both conservation programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). His newly released budget for fiscal year (FY) 2012 also proposes slashing direct payments to farmers and adding more obstacles for farmers to qualify for those payments.

As Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press statement on Feb. 14 about the proposed FY 2012 budget, “In this budget, we are cutting programs not because we want to, but because we have to.” In other words, “no, we can’t.”

This should come as no surprise, however, for anyone who looked at the Obama administration’s proposed budget for FY 2011 and FY 2010.

Unlike previous years, however, many farm groups were largely silent about this year’s proposed cuts to farmers and conservation programs. No press release critical of the President’s proposed conservation program and farm payment cuts were sent out from American Soybean Association (ASA), American Farm Bureau Federation or the National Corn Growers Association. Why they haven’t, I can only speculate – could it be that they agree with the President, or do they see any criticism of his budget proposal as simply futile?

At this point I must applaud one farm group for taking a strong stand this year against the Obama Administration’s continued calls for cuts to agriculture and rural America. The group: National Farmers Union (NFU). I agree with many points in their Feb. 14 news release.

In particular, I agree with NFU President Roger Johnson, that “farm policy should be designed to provide support during difficult times. Recent high market prices may lead some to believe that [high] commodity prices will continue long into the future. That conclusion is likely to be very wrong. Every farmer understands that high prices are followed by low prices – and our policies need to recognize that.”

Johnson also points out that “the administrations proposed budget makes significant cuts to rural development programs,” and that “investments in a stable and secure food, fiber and energy supply ought to be of the utmost importance, because these investments create a thriving rural economy and are critically important to our national security.”

You may have a different opinion and support the Obama administration’s recent proposed cuts for conservation programs and direct payments to farmers. As always, I welcome your input on this or any topic related to soybean production and/or farm life. When writing, please let me know your name, where you farm or work, what your comment is and whether or not I have permission to use your comment in a future Soybean E-Digest newsletter.

You can contact me (John Pocock) at: Thanks for your readership.

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