Friday, September 12, 2008

Bush’s New Budget Revisions Negate New Farm Bill Provisions

The 2008 Farm Bill stuck in the craw of the Bush Administration, and was not vetoed because the House and Senate had enough votes to override a veto. So the administration is crippling the bill by not funding it the Budget that they sent to the House. If you are concerned with this omission, please contact your Congressman and tell them to provide funding for these programs in the 2009 Budget.

Please read this article to understand what this means for small farmers, locally grown food, and healthy food for school children. Washington State Representative Rick Larsen worked hard on this bill to include cane crops (berries). This will hit us in several small ways, such as the loss of EQIP program funding that will aversely impact our farm and most small farmers. The Bush Administration's budget really only helps industrial agricultural concerns.

The following article is being reprinted in whole, with permission, of The Fruit Growers News.

Bush’s New Budget Revisions Negate New Farm Bill Provisions
By Dick Lehnert

Some provisions of the new Farm Bill that specialty crops producers had found so appealing will not be funded if proposed adjustments to the federal budget, recommended Aug. 1 by the Bush administration, are approved by Congress.

Cuts would be made to the new National Clean Plant Network, the organic research and Extension program, specialty crops block grants, section 32 funds for fresh fruit and vegetable purchases for school lunch programs, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the plant pest and disease management and disaster prevention program and several other USDA programs for which new or increased spending was authorized by the new Farm Bill.

Proposed budget cuts tallied up to $594 million for USDA. Increases of $172 million were recommended for the Farm Services Agency, $117 million for a new computer system and $55 million for staffing.

In net total, USDA would take a cut of $422 million, and the savings would be used to fund other, non-agricultural federal government programs.

The adjustments were proposed Aug. 1 in a letter and documents addressed by President George W. Bush to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and in a transmittal letter from Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Jim Nussle.

There was no reaction from the farm community except for a press release Aug. 6 from the American Farmland Trust, which drew attention to the proposed cuts. Some $403 million of the cuts affect conservation-related programs. John Stierna, AFT’s authority on conservation issues, plowed through the documents OMB sent to Congress and detailed the cuts.

Bush had sent his proposed FY 2009 budget to Congress in February, before the new Farm Bill passed early this summer. The Farm Bill authorized new or increased funding in a number of areas, especially for programs favored by specialty crop producers and organic farmers. Bush then proposed amendments to his earlier budget, in which he proposed not funding many of the new provisions of the Farm Bill.

AFT is concerned that if these cuts are adopted, it will set a precedent for future years — taking away some of the funding for conservation and other purposes that was provided in the Farm Bill, Stierna said.

Here are details on some of the proposed cuts:

– Previous legislation had authorized funding for EQIP – which cost-shares pollution prevention and other conservation measures implemented by farmers – at $1.05 billion. The new Farm Bill increased mandatory funding to $1.33 billion for FY 2009. The president proposes cutting this $287 million increase.

– Section 32 funds to the Domestic Food Assistance Program, which provides money to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program, would not be increased. The new Farm Bill had authorized an increase of $100 million, to $1.17 billion for FY 2009. Bush proposed permanently eliminating this increase.

– Specialty Crop Block Grants that support producers of fruits, vegetables and nuts by providing research, technical assistance, food safety and educational programs – a new Farm Bill program to be funded by $34 million – would have FY 2009 funding of $15 million under the Bush proposal.

– The provision in the new Farm Bill to increase funding for the Organic Research and Extension Initiative to $18 million a year would be cut by $8 million under Bush’s proposal. This remains an increase; the funding level under the previous Farm Bill was $3 million.

– The Farmland Protection program, which provides matching funds for state and local programs that purchase development rights to preserve farms, was increased from $97 million for FY 2009 to $121 million by the new Farm Bill. Bush proposes cutting it back to the previous level.

– A new Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program that was established to add funding for conservation measures on agricultural lands to reduce nutrient and sediment in that watershed would not be funded. The new Farm Bill added $23 million for FY 2009; the Bush proposal would eliminate that.

– The Agricultural Management Assistance Program, which provides conservation assistance to states where participation in the Federal Crop Insurance Program typically has been low (largely states in the northeast), would have an added $5 million for FY 2009 under the new Farm Bill, from its previous $10 million. Bush proposed eliminating all $15 million.

– A Farm Bill feature to add $12 million to the Value-Added Agriculture Market Development Program would not be funded in FY 2009 under Bush’s proposal, leaving it at $3 million.

– A new Farm Bill provision to add $12 million for “plant pest and disease management and disaster prevention,” all new money, would be canceled for FY 2009.

– The Farm Bill provided $50 million for the new Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentives program for FY 2009. Bush’s proposal would cancel all funding for the program.

– Another Bush proposal would permanently cancel $5 million of FY 2009 funding for the National Clean Plant Network.

Full details of the president’s proposed budget revisions can be found at

The new fiscal year starts Oct. 1, by which time Congress must pass appropriation bills (typically 13) or an omnibus bill (a combination), or approve a continuing resolution.

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