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5 Ag and Energy Takeaways from the White House Budget

5 Ag and Energy Takeaways from the White House Budget
Budget info to go: proposal would extend cellulosic tax credit, cut back crop insurance support

President Obama on Tuesday unveiled his $3.9 trillion budget proposal, which provides a blueprint for funding priorities for federal agencies and hundreds of programs and projects.

In a nutshell
Under the President's proposal, the USDA would be funded at $23.7 billion for discretionary spending, down about $938 million. The Department of Energy would be funded at $27.9 billion.

Key objectives in the proposal for agriculture include $25 million for each of three new multidisciplinary ag research institutes dedicated to crop science and pollinator health, advanced bio-based manufacturing and anti-microbial resistance research, according to proposal text.

Budget info to go: proposal would extend cellulosic tax credit, cut back crop insurance support

The President's priorities for the USDA also underscore efforts to strengthen pollinator habitats, and would double funding for broadband access in rural communities.

In the energy arena, funding suggestions of interest include a $4.2 billion investment in discretionary applied energy funds to "drive innovation," and $2.3 billion for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, promote energy efficiency, and double U.S. renewable electricity generation.

In response to the proposal, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the budget provides opportunities for producers through $325 million set aside for competitive grants while recognizing "fiscal realities" by updating USDA processes for a leaner federal workforce.

Next stop
The proposal, required by law each year, is often rebutted quickly by the opposing party, explains Ed O'Keefe in a Washington Post blog. However, both proposals typically don’t go far.

"With a budget fight out of the way until late next year, attention is expected to focus in the coming weeks on the House and Senate appropriations committees that will decide how federal agencies can spend money next year. But before that begins, both parties paused Tuesday to take shots at the opposing side," O'Keefe writes.

5 takeaways
Here's more of what others are saying about key ag and energy changes in the President's budget:

1. Crop insurance cuts. Obama's proposal aims to save $14 billion over 10 years by trimming crop insurance assistance. Wall Street Journal

2. Infrastructure spending. Proposal asks for $302 billion to fix infrastructure issues. Politico

3. Cellulosic ethanol tax credit extension. Proposal would also limit oil subsidies. Ethanol Producer

4. More for federal "Climate Action Plan". Funds would provide for enforcement of clean water and air regulations. Wall Street Journal

5. Elimination of FSA offices. The proposed budget consolidates some Farm Service Agency offices, but expands the role of office personnel. USDA Radio

View the full budget on the White House's Office of Management and Budget page.

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