OPINION The White House Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought released Feb. 10 the president’s Fiscal Year 2021 Budget of the United States Government. While the National Association of Wheat Growers continues to review the budget proposal in more detail, we do see that it proposes drastic cuts to some key programs for wheat farmers.
It has become an annual tradition for the Administration’s proposed budget to include cuts to crop insurance, which has happened under presidents from both political parties. It must be understood that issuing cuts to crop insurance can make policies more expensive for farmers. When input costs remain inflated and commodity prices depressed, that additional cost could result in many growers not having insurance and may make it difficult for them to stay in business.
The president’s Fiscal Year 21 budget proposal would also scale back key safety-net and conservation programs that many growers rely on to better incorporate sustainable and healthy soil practices in their operations. The Fiscal Year 21 budget proposal also enacts a cut of $1.66 billion to in-kind international food aid. Feeding the world is a driving motivation for many agricultural producers. The U.S. wheat industry is a champion of food-aid programs, comprising an average of 40 percent of all in-kind food aid from the United States each year.
Cuts to discretionary programs would mean reductions to key research programs for growers. Wheat farmers are dealing more and more with extreme weather conditions, disease and pest challenges, which can only be addressed through public and private research efforts.
The National Association of Wheat Growers would like to thank the Administration for fully funding the Market Access Program at $200 million and the Foreign Market Development Program at $35 million. Both programs have been critical to the export success for American wheat by helping to create access to new markets.
The National Association of Wheat Growers will continue to impress upon Congress the difficult economic conditions in wheat country and thus why those programs shouldn’t be cut through the budget and appropriations process.