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Budget Coming Under Fire

Several groups are voicing disappointment in the proposed USDA budget.

In the proposed USDA budget released earlier this week, funding for many programs was reduced. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer said at the release that like any budget, some tough decisions had to be made. However, many groups don't agree with cuts that were made.

The National Association of Conservation Districts are concerned by reduced funding fro conservation programs as well as the cuts in access to conservation planning and technical assistance.

"America’s landowners and managers have shown a growing interest in participating in conservation efforts," says NACD acting President Steve Robinson. "However, the proposed budget cuts, coupled with the fact that Congress has not reauthorized the Farm Bill, put conservation districts and their landowner customers in a difficult spot, limiting their ability to implement needed conservation practices and programs."

A big issue that the National Farmers Union is upset about is the proposed user fees to fund Country of Origin Labeling compliance reviews, saying a user fee is a tax.

"It's shocking that the President would pledge to veto any legislation that increases taxes, yet propose a new tax to implement country of origin labeling," NFU President Tom Buis says. "The administration has threatened to veto the Senate farm bill for using tax revenues to pay for additional farm bill spending and the House farm bill because it closed loopholes that allowed foreign corporations operating in the United States to avoid paying U.S. taxes, characterizing this as a tax increase."

The NFU also expressed disappointment with the funding level for the Food Safety Inspection Service. The budget allocates $22 million to FSIS.

"I would hardly call that adequate to ensure the safety and proper packaging of products consumed by Americans," Buis says.

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