March 27, 2009

Crapo Rejects Farm Cuts In Budget Proposal

Warns plan backtracks on commitment made in 2008 Farm Bill

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, is warning against unwarranted cuts in the safety net for Idaho and American agriculture as Congress considers proposals for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 budget. Crapo joined Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) in leading a bipartisan group of 21 Senators, including Idaho Senator Jim Risch, in sending a letter to the President expressing opposition to Market Access Program (MAP) funding cuts proposed in the President's FY 2010 budget outline. Crapo and a number of colleagues, including Senator Risch, also wrote Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to contest the proposed agriculture program cuts and cautioned that they disregard the costs to produce our country's food, feed, fiber and fuel every day. He called for the new Administration's plan to be reexamined.

"The 2008 Farm Bill, which contained significant farm payment reforms, is still being implemented," said Crapo. "The commitments made to producers through the Farm Bill must be fulfilled. Farm families, like all Americans, are experiencing tough economic times. The rug cannot be pulled out from underneath producers, who are facing high input costs, tightening credit, and unstable prices, as they are working to remain successful and maintain needed jobs in rural communities."

The President's FY2010 budget outline contained proposals to phase out direct payments to farms with sales above $500,000, reduce federal crop insurance support, and provide a 20 percent funding reduction for the Market Access Program. MAP assists with expanding and sustaining foreign market opportunities for U.S. agricultural products. The Senators highlighted the significant contribution of exports to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product and the need to enhance export opportunities during these challenging economic times rather than curtailing them by reducing MAP funding.

"Expanding export opportunities for U.S. agriculture can contribute significantly to a better economic picture," said Crapo, who serves as Ranking Member for the Senate Finance Committee Subcommittee on International, Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness. "We have a proven track record of what works for agriculture, and Idaho farmers should not be left high and dry in this budget process," Crapo said. "I look forward to a full, bipartisan and vigorous review of these budget proposals."

Yesterday, Crapo voted against the FY 2010 Budget Resolution approved by the Senate Budget Committee and expected to be considered by the full Senate next week because the budget proposes to increase the public debt by almost $5 trillion over the next five years. "For example, the budget does not propose cutting one penny from mandatory programs driving this unsustainable debt," Crapo said, "At the same time it proposes harmful cuts to programs such as the Market Access Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the federal crop insurance program that have proven to work in rural America."