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Federal Funding Cuts Proposed

Federal Funding Cuts Proposed

Proposal targets agriculture with more than $3 billion in cuts.

House Republicans say they will cut more than $32 billion from agency budgets over the next few months.  Independent budget analysts say this would force some domestic agencies to immediately slash spending by as much as 20%. Agencies related to national security, including the Pentagon and the departments of Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs, will received a slight increase in funding, receiving an extra $8 billion. 

The Agriculture Appropriations Committee has confirmed that USDA and Food and Drug Administration spending would be cut by $3.2 billion, which is 14% of their budget.

American Farm Bureau Budget Specialist Pat Wolff says agriculture will not save the country from drowning in red ink.

"Agriculture is a small part of the Federal budget," Wolff said. "So you could take huge cuts out of agriculture and not have that big of an impact on the bottom line."

Wolff argues ag shouldn't take more than its fair share of cuts since it's already taken billions in cuts in recent years. And most of USDA's budget is popular feeding programs, food stamps, school lunch and breakfast and the Women, Infants and Children feeding program.

"The biggest part of USDA's budget is the feeding programs but the Department of Forestry is also a big part of it," Wolff said. "The part that impacts farmers and ranchers - conservation, research, rural development – those kind of programs are relatively small part of USDA's budget."

House Democrats vowed to fight the GOP proposal calling it short-sighted and arguing it would slow the economic recovery. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called the House GOP plan unworkable. So Wolff says the cuts aren't a sure thing yet.

"We have to remember that there are two bodies to the United States Congress," Wolff said. "The House is moving very fast and very aggressively to reduce spending. The Senate is taking a little slower, more perspective approach to it, so just because one body says it will be doesn't necessarily mean that's how it'll turn out."

The two parties must agree on a spending bill to finish the fiscal year. A temporary measure expires on March 4. Without a deal they'd be forced to pass another stop-gap bill or risk a government shutdown.

TAGS: USDA
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