AFBF URGES FUNDING NEXT FARM BILL AT 2002 LEVEL
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Funding for the upcoming farm bill should be at the same level as that authorized in the 2002 farm bill, with an inflation adjustment, the American Farm Bureau Federation told the White House today.
In a letter to President Bush, AFBF said an adequate baseline for agriculture in the fiscal year 2008 budget is necessary to provide flexibility and appropriate funding for the agriculture, conservation and nutrition communities when writing the next farm bill. AFBF also said the administration should be willing to provide the same support for agriculture in 2007 as it did in 2002.
"The 2002 farm bill was carefully constructed to provide predictable support for commodity, conservation and nutrition programs," AFBF President Bob Stallman said. "Congress struck a balance in funding each of those programs. More importantly, Congress determined the tax dollars they were willing to spend on those programs over the life of the farm bill."
Stallman said AFBF is concerned that if Congress is limited to the current Congressional Budget Office baseline for agriculture when extending the current farm bill or writing a new one, adequate funding will not be provided for the commodity title. The current CBO baseline for 2008-2013, released in March, projects spending at $488 billion, up from $465 billion Congress committed to funding for the 2002 bill.
However, CBO's projected division of funds shifts substantially from that approved for the 2002 bill. Nutrition funding is expected to grow 15 percent and conservation funding will rise 35 percent. Outlays for the commodity title, which includes farm program payments, are slated to decrease by 42 percent. A new CBO baseline to be released in March 2007 is expected to reduce the commodity baseline, to $57 billion over six years -- barely more than half of the $99 billion Congress was willing to spend on commodity programs during the past six years.
"It is imperative that the funding, and not simply the support levels, for the 2007 farm bill be sustained at levels authorized for the 2002 bill, with adjustment for inflation," Stallman said.
According to AFBF, reducing domestic support for agriculture in an upcoming reconciliation or farm bill debate would diminish U.S. leverage to convince other countries to reduce their tariffs and export subsidies, when the World Trade Organizations negotiations move forward. In addition, the economic setting heading into the next farm bill is uncertain at best, with U.S. net farm income projected to fall to $58.9 billion.