Here we go again. It's one you can decide on the merits. No loaded words need be employed.
They are the lifeblood of a vast swath of the Arkansas Delta. A lot of people, including many urban Democrats, don't like them. The Republican Party has been even more critical of subsidies to farmers. And so it is that U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford of Jonesboro, who rose to prominence as an agricultural news reporter on the radio, has fallen in line behind Republican budget proposals that call for huge cuts in agriculture subsidies.
Democrats naturally want to call attention to this. You'd think it might be an issue in the fall: Cheer Rick Crawford for cutting farm welfare payments to fat agribusinesses. Or jeer him for bleeding the Arkansas farm family.
Then there's food stamps. Crawford voted yesterday to cut money for that program. Lots of people on food stamps in his district. Farmers have traditionally been among the biggest supporters of food stamps, since they grow food. But you have to save money somewhere to keep millionaires in tax cuts.
NEWS RELEASE FROM DEMOCRATIC PARTY
This week, the House Agriculture Committee announced they will be holding hearings over the proposed 2012 Farm Bill, but the farm bill could be in jeopardy because of extreme cuts supported by Rick Crawford. Last month, Crawford supported the House Republican budget which calls for over $30 billion in cuts to essential agriculture programs for Arkansas farmers even though his district received 63% of all subsidies to Arkansas farmers. The USA Rice Association said that they were “troubled” by the proposed cuts and American Soybean Association called the proposal “worrisome.”
“Congressman Rick Crawford continues to fail Arkansas farmers,” said Candace Martin of the Democratic Party of Arkansas. “Although Republicans and Democrats have come together to support reasonable cuts to agriculture in order to reduce our deficit, the farm bill and key agriculture programs could now be in jeopardy because of these troubling cuts supported by Congressman Crawford. Arkansas famers deserve a Representative that will truly fight for the economic interests of the district and be a strong voice for the vital cotton, rice and soybean industries.”
Crawford Voted for Budget with At Least $30 billion in Agriculture Cuts. According to Delta Farm Press, “the plan would cut agriculture spending some $30 billion over the next decade and those writing the next farm bill will have to adhere to those limits.” In addition, “the House Budget committee has specified FY 2013 reconciliations savings for six committees, including the Agriculture Committee to achieve $33.2 billion over 10 years (2012-2022). However, Chairman Ryan’s proposal says the six committees ‘will be responsible for determining how to meet their reconciliation instructions.’” [Delta Farm Press, 3/20/12; Western Farm Press, 3/21/12; H Con Res 112, Vote #151, 3/29/12]
Farmers Facing Uncertainty Because of Ryan Budget. “Farmers may face some uncertainty by harvest time as Congress grapples with rewriting the farm bill before it expires in September. On the table are big cuts in federal farm spending […] [The] road might be rougher than [House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas is] letting on, thanks to the House budget road map authored by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan.” The Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee said that the Ryan budget would “guarantee there will be no farm bill this year.” [National Public Radio, 4/9/12; Bloomberg, 3/20/12]
American Soybean Association Critical of Proposal. Danny Murphy of the American Soybean Association said that “The cuts that Chairman Ryan proposes … are significantly higher than those agreed upon by House and Senate agriculture committee leadership during the ‘super committee’ process last fall, and that concerns us. Especially worrisome is (Ryan’s) emphasis on the federal crop insurance program as an area for reduction. Crop insurance serves as the main safety net for America’s farmers, and its integrity must be protected.” [Delta Farm Press, 3/21/12; American Soybean Association, 3/20/12]
USA Rice Association “Troubled” by Ryan Budget Proposal. “The USA Rice Federation is seriously troubled by the level of proposed budget cuts to agriculture programs included in the fiscal year 2012 budget resolution offered by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan [….]The resolution proposes $175 billion in cuts over 10 years — a reduction of more than 20 percent to the budget baseline for agriculture and nutrition programs. ‘Agriculture is being asked to shoulder a hugely disproportionate share of deficit reduction relative to our impact on the federal budget,” USA Rice Federation chairman and Louisiana rice producer Jackie Loewer said. ‘We have already sustained significant budget cuts, and contributed $4 billion to deficit reduction in the SRA negotiations, yet we are being subjected to proposed cuts that would make crafting the next farm bill all but impossible.’” [Delta Farm Press, 4/6/11]
National Farmers Union: Congress Balancing Budget on Backs of Rural America. “National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said “Once again, we see that Congress is attempting to balance the budget on the backs of rural America. The proposed cuts to Agriculture spending would severely constrain the ability of the next farm bill to provide policy that protects against yield losses and when markets collapse […] Agriculture has been ready and willing to do its part in reducing the federal deficit, but Rep. Ryan’s budget proposes total cuts to farm bill spending of more than $155 billion. A cut of more than $33 billion to the safety net over the next ten years is too much. This is $10 billion more than the agreement reached late last year in a bipartisan, bicameral manner by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees.” [National Farmers Union, 3/20/12]
Ryan’s Cuts So Deep It Would Dismember Bi-partisan House and Senate Bill. “Published comments by Congressman Rick Berg, R-N.D., about a new farm bill seem to be at odds with his voting record in the U.S. House. An enthusiastic supporter of the so-called Ryan budget proposal, Berg also said he supports the U.S. Senate’s farm bill. That’s curious because farm bill provisions in Rep. Paul Ryan’s, R-Wis., budget plan are far different and far less generous than those in the Senate’s version […]What is not perfectly clear, however, is Berg’s vote for the Ryan budget as it relates to farm legislation. The Ryan ax slashes about $180 billion over 10 years in farm, conservation and nutrition funding. However, House and Senate agriculture committees agreed to cut $23 billion from the same farm bill programs. The difference is significant, to say the least […] The bill proposed by House and Senate ag committees makes major cuts in farm program spending, which are necessary. But the bipartisan Senate bill does not sacrifice a market-based safety net for producers. Nor does it scuttle a better USDA/private insurer crop insurance partnership. Ryan’s cuts are so deep they likely would dismember both.” [InForum Fargo Editorial, 4/17/12]