As lawmakers reviewed the 2011 budget compromise Tuesday, attention was being given to spending cuts in the agriculture arena. Overall, the compromise provides for $38.5 billion in spending cuts. The 2011 budget compromise cuts agriculture spending $3 billion below the fiscal year 2010 level. That's $3.2 billion below the President's request for the same time period. A House vote on the compromise could come late Thursday.
The proposal cuts the Food Safety and Inspection Service budget by $10 million, but meat, poultry, and egg inspection activities will continue. The National Institute for Food and Agriculture budget is axed by $125.9 million. The Women Infants and Children program will be cut by $504 million and agricultural credit programs will be cut by $433 million.
Funding for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program will be reduced. Also, Natural Resources Conservation Service funding will be reduced 12%.
Details on the rest of the cuts USDA will have to make are scant. But American Farm Bureau Public Policy Director Mark Maslyn calls the cuts reasonable.
"They're spread across the Department and the various programs," Maslyn said. "So I think while it's significant agriculture will be fine."
Maslyn says there are some very serious debt and deficit problems in this country and this is only the beginning and that the country will see belt-tightening for years to come. Meanwhile, Maslyn says the critical Food Safety and Inspection Service seems to have dodged a bullet only being cut $10 million.
"FDA even got an increase," Maslyn said. "But again it's in the context of a general consensus that FDA was underfunded and had been for a long time."
According to reports Republicans succeeded in cutting the Environmental Protection Agency by $1.6 billion, or 16%, as well as eliminating the President's Climate Change Czar among others.
"That's clearly a statement that was made by Congress," Maslyn said. "That reflects the mail and the information that members are receiving from their constituents. People are mad."
Maslyn says they are angry over what they see as EPA being out of control, though he expects the agency to simply shift funds to preserve its agenda.