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Obama's Crop Insurance Changes Unlikely

Members of Congress continued to heap soil onto the grave of the Obama administration’s 2016 budget Tuesday, a document often described as dead on arrival in the new Republican Congress.

At his weekly press conference, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said Tuesday that the budget’s proposal for crop insurance subsidies appears unlikely, since it would require changing authorizing legislation, not annual appropriations. That would mean opening up the 2014 Farm Bill to legislative changes.

Grassley said he discussed that when visiting with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) about sequestration - spending cuts authorized by the Budget Control Act of 2011, which got a partial reprieve in a 2013 budget deal that expires this October.

“I may be sticking my neck out when I quote a fellow senator,” Grassley said, referring to Roberts. When Grassley asked if the farm bill would be reopened, “the chairman was very adamant that we weren’t going to,” Grassley told Agriculture.com.

Roberts' press aides haven’t yet responded to our request for a comment on Grassley’s statement, but in a press release issued Monday, Roberts said:

“The president is especially hard on farmers, proposing to cut the crop insurance program and again placing a disproportionate share of federal budget cuts on the shoulders of producers.

“Following four years of extreme drought, Kansas is living proof that the crop insurance program works for the farmer, the taxpayer, and the economy.”

Grassley disagreed with another proposal in the Obama budget, to consolidate a hodgepodge of food safety agencies into one, which would include moving the work of meat inspectors out of the USDA.

“There’s an awful lot of institutional knowledge the Agriculture Department has, and I think if you move it out of there, you’re going to be jeopardizing food safety,” Grassley said.    

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