The NCC joined with 132 other farm organizations on a letter to President Obama, House Speaker Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Reid, D-Nev., expressing strong opposition to any deficit reduction package that would disproportionately affect US farmers/ranchers and rural America — noting particular concern with the depth/timing of cuts to agricultural policies reportedly being considered for inclusion in legislation to increase the debt limit.
The letter conveyed deep concern about any requirement that cuts be implemented for 2012, effectively reneging on commitments already made to and relied upon by producers and their lenders under the five-year 2008 farm bill. The groups also said they strongly believe that any policy decisions or mandated cuts ought to be determined by the congressional committees of jurisdiction and made in the context of the 2012 farm bill.
“The current record droughts, flooding and other natural disasters clearly illustrate the unique risks producers face and underscore just one of many reasons behind the need for strong, consistent farm policy which is in serious jeopardy if the reported depth and timing of cuts contemplated by negotiators are accurate,” the letter noted. “Though we have watched the total federal dollars allocated for assistance to farmers and ranchers diminish with each passing year, farm organizations have consistently recognized the need to reduce government indebtedness. We have expressed a willingness to shoulder a proportionate share of budget reductions in relation to the share of the budget devoted to farm and ranch assistance. In fact, we may have been the only sector to step forward, despite our having already been cut three times in the past six years, most recently with significant cuts to crop insurance.”
The groups stated that while their members support efforts to bring down the deficit and debt in an orderly and comprehensive manner, “we cannot in good faith support deficit reduction efforts that target U.S. farmers and ranchers and rural America for disproportionately large cuts to the small percentage of the mandatory budget devoted to supporting agriculture. Accordingly, we will oppose any cuts to farm policy that are proposed outside the context of a comprehensive agreement involving all federal spending that seriously addresses the fiscal crisis our nation faces. We strongly urge you to develop a balanced approach to deficit reduction that distributes reductions to all segments of the federal budget.”