The White House budget proposal for 2014 would do away with direct payments to farmers and slash funding for USDA. The 6% proposed cut to USDA coffers joins other proposals such as lowering crop insurance subsidies and conservation program funding.
The budget – which would cut farm programs and crop insurance by $38 billion -- comes shortly after lawmakers indicated Congress is ready to take up new farm bill legislation in coming weeks. In 2012, farm bills written in both chambers did away with direct payments, but bolstered crop insurance. Agriculture advocates will watch closely to see how the agriculture committees react to Obama’s budget.
As expected, the White House budget would also overhaul U.S. food aid, which has annual expenses of $1.5 billion. Rather than buy U.S.-grown commodities and ship them to areas of the world in need as has been done for decades, the budget calls for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to be able to send cash overseas for local and regional food buys.
The Obama administration, along with international aid organizations, claims the new approach will save money and provide help to millions more people than is possible under the current program. Many U.S. commodity organizations are strongly opposed to the proposed changes.