Trump's Budget Cuts Leave Food Safety on Back Burner

Remigio Civitarese
Marzo 21, 2017

The farm group representatives that met with National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn on March 15 have been stressing the importance of agricultural trade following a number of statements by the president in which he canceled US participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and indicated he wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and other trade pacts. A decrease of that amount means the USDA's portion of the budget would drop from $22.6 billion to $17.9 billion.

"States can not tolerate additional cuts".

Opposition is already building in Congress.

"With a rapidly aging farm population and most farmland on the cusp of transition, this is a critical time for USA agriculture".

"Continues to support farmer-focused research and extension partnerships at land-grant universities and provides about $350 million for USDA's flagship competitive research program".

"Reduces funding for USDA's statistical capabilities, while maintaining core Departmental analytical functions, such as the funding necessary to complete the Census of Agriculture".

However, the plan fully funds the Food Safety and Inspection Service, which safeguards the nation's supply of meat, poultry, and egg products.

The Trump administration's $6.2 billion or 13 percent cut to the Department of Housing and Urban Development would be the biggest hit that agency has taken since President Ronald Reagan slashed it in the early 1980s, said the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The administration plans to eliminate its water and waste-disposal loan and grant program, which helps with rural water and waste infrastructure, for a savings of about $500 million.

Other U.S. federal agencies facing significant funding cuts are the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is due for a 31% reduction in funding, and the Labor Department, which has been allocated 21% less than past year in the proposal. It also will seek to eliminate aspects of the Rural Business-Cooperative Service, which supports business development and job opportunities, because the administration called it "duplicative".

"Without it, we wouldn't have air service" in Thief River Falls, Hedrick said, adding other rural cities that use EAS funds may have to close their airports.

President Donald Trump's effort to boost defense spending while cutting other parts of the budget has Iowans and others in the Midwest concerned about cuts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"The Trump budget is not only irresponsible and cold-hearted, it's ignorant to the needs and priorities of American families", said Congressman John Yarmuth. "President Trump promised to create jobs and make Americans safer".

"We call on Congress to reject these budget cuts and adopt funding levels that ensure the success and vibrancy of farming communities and rural America".

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, did not comment on the proposed USDA cuts in a statement his office provided.

And even though Trump announced almost two months ago that former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue is his choice for ag secretary, no confirmation hearing for Perdue has been set. Slashes were made to most agencies in contrast to increases for defense, homeland security and veterans affairs.

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