April 10, 2011 Ryan’s Proposed Budget Would cut near $150 Billion in Ag over next decade
House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget was almost overshadowed by the possibility of a government shutdown this past week. Ryan’s cuts to agriculture over the next decade include $30 billion in cuts to crop insurance, trade and commodity programs. Conservation programs would sacrifice another $18 billion and nutrition programs, which are a part of the farm bill budget, would lose $100 billion over 10 years. Ryan targeted cuts to direct payments, saying that, “With crop prices – and deficits – hitting new highs, it is time to adjust support to this industry to reflect economic realities.” Agriculture faces a difficult task in heralding the need for solid farm policy when prices are high, making it ever more important that producers constantly remind their leaders that prices are cyclical and what goes up, will most certainly come down.
Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, responded quickly to Ryan’s budget saying that, “The House Budget Committee has outlined a plan that may shock some…While I might not agree with every proposed cut, we are well past the point where trillion-dollar deficits can be ignored.” He underscored his committee’s ultimate authority to write the House’s 2012 farm bill saying, “As for the policy suggestions that Chairman Ryan or the President use to reach the numbers they put in their budgets, they are simply suggestions. At the end of the day, members of the House Agriculture Committee and I will write the next farm bill.”
It is important to point out that while the House handles a flurry of budget-cutting measures, the Senate is still controlled by Democrats. Both the House and Senate must pass any budget measure in order for it to become the law of the land. However, even if only the House passes Ryan’s budget proposal, the House Agriculture Committee will have to draft its version of the 2012 Farm Bill within the confines set forth by Chairman Ryan. The Senate has no obligation to write their bill to include such cuts, which guarantees a thorny farm bill conference committee between the House and the Senate next year.