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In a wink to Congress, Perdue concedes on crop insurance

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue reached back to his days as a state governor to explain why the Trump administration proposed a 31% cut in crop insurance funding. Like a steep cut proposed for SNAP, the crop insurance proposal has no traction on Capitol Hill. “You can rest assured that one is not going to get cut,” said North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven on Thursday during a hearing on the USDA budget.

“Your chairman [Hoeven] was governor. I was governor. We’ve submitted proposals to our general assemblies and our legislators and cut programs that we knew they would restore, while we put our priorities elsewhere. I think you see some of that going on as well,” said Perdue, effectively conceding the issue without explicitly abandoning it.

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Perdue made the same reference to legislative gamesmanship, undergirded by policy disputes, earlier this week at a House appropriations hearing, where he was also challenged on the crop insurance plan.

At today’s hearing, Montana Sen. Jon Tester inquired why a “very significant” cut was proposed for crop insurance. Perdue answered that the White House budget office has campaigned for years for changes in the taxpayer-subsidized system. At present, the government pays roughly 62¢ of each $1 of crop insurance premiums. The administration’s budget proposal says that farmers ought to pay a larger share of the premiums and that the wealthiest operators should pay full price for them.

Hoeven, who chairs the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees USDA spending, was elected to the Senate after serving as North Dakota governor from 2000-10. Perdue was Georgia governor from 2003-11.

To watch a video of the hearing or to read Perdue’s written testimony, click here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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