Farm State Lawmakers and Farm / Commodity Groups are still in denial about agricultural spending cuts and policy reform that are coming in the 2012 Farm Bill.
Washington D.C. has unsustainable spending and debt.
House and Senate will go about the Farm Bill in different ways, but I believe the real action will be in the House.
The Agricultural Community needs to get some things if supports are going to be reduced. We need regulatory reform and relief from all the rules and regulations. We need to reduce the cost of doing business in America.
Budget Comm. Chairman Paul Ryan is looking at and doing things completely different than in the past. Every spare penny will go to deficit reduction. Even International Monetary Fund says the U.S. must get its budget house in order. Is the average farmer even aware what is going on?
Both fiscal conservatives and social conscious democrats could vote against the farm bill when it comes to the house floor. This could even mean the farm bill from the agricultural comm. could be defeated on the house floor and/or it could be completely re-written on the house floor.
All of USDA needs to be looked at when the new farm bill is written. Cuts do not just have to be made on just commodity programs, but all of USDA needs to be reduced also. Major USDA re-structuring could be good not only from a budget perspective, but also make USDA a more responsive department. USDA is the largest non defense department in the US government. Forest Service, FSA, RD, NRCS, APHIS, NASS, Foreign Ag Service, etc., etc., etc., many, many agencies within USDA.
Do a top to bottom review, cut 8 undersecretaries to 4, consolidate agencies, you could cut thousands of jobs in Washington D.C. and all the other major offices and not affect services to the local level one bit. Total overhaul of USDA operations would result in huge savings. Farm groups need to push for every job cut at the local office level, one job also needs to be cut in Washington, and one more job from the large offices such as Kansas City, St. Louis, Fort Collins, etc.
Food and Nutrition is the largest part of the farm bill. 75% of the spending is there. Can not save much money unless you reform Food Stamps, WIC (women infants and children), and similar programs. These programs eat up huge sums of monies. Some ideas – 1. drug test recipients 2. have a photo ID on debit cards 3. 10 year limit on assistance unless mentally or physically incapable of working.
Farmers do not have to shoulder the burden of USDA budget cuts alone. All of USDA needs to do its part.
Next Farm Bill podcast will be on what I think the actual farmer programs should be.