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2012 Budget Proposal Passes House

2012 Budget Proposal Passes House
Proposal could impact agriculture though Senate unlikely to take up the bill.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's 2012 budget proposal passed the House Friday by a vote of 235 to 193. Voting was mostly along party lines. House lawmakers also voted down additional budget proposals from House Democrats, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Conservative Republican Study Committee, the Congressional Black Caucus and moderate Democrat Jim Cooper of Tennessee.

It is likely the proposal will not see the light of day in the U.S. Senate. The bill will, however, be a part of the larger fiscal spending discussion, along with the main Republican proposal and President Obama's own vision for long-term spending.

In all, the FY2012 Republican House Budget Resolution proposes over $177 billion in cuts to agriculture programs over the next 10 years. The bill suggests a $127 billion cut to food stamp programs, an approximately $30 billion cut to commodity programs and about $20 billion in cuts to other programs, including conservation programs.

This means that even if the resolution is rejected by the Senate; the House Agriculture Committee could be forced to cut $177.86 billion from agriculture programs if the Committee wants to pass legislation, such as a new Farm Bill.

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says the FY2012 federal budget calls for cuts to agricultural risk management tools, including crop insurance, which is likely to be at the core of the next farm safety net, along with reducing direct payments. While agriculture is more than willing to take its fair share of cuts, Johnson says the FY2012 budget has some groups, such as agriculture, doing much more than their fair share.

Johnson says the document that attempts to justify the House budget, ironically titled "Aligning Agricultural Programs with Economic Reality," calls for deep cuts to agriculture programs. Undermining the strength of the farm safety net, it ignores the economic reality that high commodity prices never last and that farm input costs are higher than ever before. Johnson says $30 billion in cuts over the next decade could very well jeopardize the nation's secure and abundant food supply.

According to Johnson, the budget also repeals and defunds important health care programs, turns Medicaid into block grants to be administered by states, privatizes Medicare, and cuts taxes for corporations all while reducing funding for food stamps. These measures would have a devastating effect on many rural Americans' ability to obtain affordable and accessible health care and feed their families.

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