Agriculture leaders including lawmakers from President Donald Trump’s Republican Party on Thursday criticized his planned 21 percent cut to discretionary spending at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), saying it could take a toll on the rural communities that helped elect him last November.
Trump has proposed slashing the USDA’s discretionary budget by $4.7 billion to $17.9 billion by halting funding for rural clean water initiatives and rural business services, reducing some USDA statistical services and cutting county-level staff.
The president has already vowed to alter trade deals that have largely boosted farm incomes and targeted health care policies that have particularly benefited the rural poor.
“America’s farmers and ranchers are struggling, and we need to be extremely careful not to exacerbate these conditions,” said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway. Farm incomes are down 50 percent from four years ago, he added.
Opposition is already building in Congress.
“I strongly oppose the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts to programs that are critical to farmers, ranchers and families in small towns across America,” Debbie Stabenow, ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), the country’s largest organization representing farmers, said county-level USDA staffing cuts and reduced statistical services could hurt members.
“A lot of farmers and growers rely on USDA’s statistical capabilities to make a lot of marketing and risk management decisions and planting decisions,” said John Newton, AFBF director of market intelligence.
The proposal did not give details of which services could be cut.
Trump’s blueprint aims to save $498 million by eliminating a program that helps fund clean water and sewer systems in small communities.
The budget proposal would also eliminate a food aid program, which had $182 million in funding earmarked for fiscal 2017. Its planned $6.2 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children is about $150 million less than fiscal 2016. Under former President Barack Obama, the program was reduced by $273 million between fiscal 2015 and 2016.
The plans for USDA spending were part of Trump’s budget blueprint, a broad outline of spending proposals for the fiscal year ahead.
It does not cover “mandatory” spending established by law, like farm subsidies, only “discretionary” programs where lawmakers can adjust spending.
The White House has said it plans to release a traditional full budget in mid-May.
The USDA oversees agriculture, rural communities and nutritional programs, including funding for school lunches. The agency also publishes closely watched global farming production statistics.
(Additional reporting by Jo Winterbottom in Chicago; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and David Gregorio)
Wall Street Journal drops a truth-bomb on Trump over his market-destroying trade war: ‘Everyone loses’
In yet another blast from the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, the editors looked back at Friday's stock market free fall and pointed the finger directly at President Donald Trump and his "trade-war general" Peter Navarro for being the main culprits.
After Friday's disastrous stock market session that took a major downturn due to the escalation of the trade war -- with China and Trump ordering billions of dollars in new tariffs -- the Journal pointed out that there will be no winners.
G7 off to a rough start as Trump aides slam host Macron’s agenda
With President Donald Trump at the latest G7 summit, all eyes are on the interactions between him and French President Emmanuel Macron. The two world leaders started off amicably, exchanging pleasantries, but behind the scenes, things have grown contentious.
According to Politico, Trump officials are railing against Macron, accusing him of trying to "fracture" the summit by steering the negotiations away from trade and into areas like climate change.
This development comes after Trump harshly criticized Macron for enacting a tax on digital services, which could increase costs for American tech companies like Google and Facebook. Trump threatened that if France does not suspend its "unfair" digital tax, "we'll be taxing their wine like they've never seen before." It is a threat that Trump has made repeatedly over the last few weeks whenever he has gotten angry at France.
A likely recession could doom Trump
President Donald Trump is worried that there will be a recession before the 2020 election. For once, he is right about something.
This article first appeared in Salon.
"The Economy is strong and good, whereas the rest of the world is not doing so well. Despite this the Fake News Media, together with their Partner, the Democrat Party, are working overtime to convince people that we are in, or will soon be going into, a Recession," Trump tweeted on Friday in a clear attempt to assuage concerns. "They are willing to lose their wealth, or a big part of it, just for the possibility of winning the Election. But it won’t work because I always find a way to win, especially for the people!"