Have you peeked yet at the USDA’s proposed $146 billion spending plan for the fiscal year beginning in October? Probably not.
Just the preface of the 132 page document can cure the worst case of insomnia.
Nevertheless, the budget proposal is what Congress has been given, and will be met with, “Oh, it’s a starting point, at least.” With the budget on the table for discussion, let’s see where the discussion starts….
USDA authorized spending has climbed from $116 billion in 2009 to the $156 billion authorized for the current fiscal year before the fiscal cliff, and sequester, and other cuts were made. The Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposes $146 billion in total spending, which includes $123 billion for mandatory programs that include: crop insurance, nutrition assistance programs, farm commodity and trade programs and a number of conservation programs.
The remaining programs provide some discretion to Congress and the White House and include WIC; food safety; rural development loans and grants; research and education; soil and water conservation technical assistance; animal and plant health; management of national forests, wildland fire, and other Forest Service activities; and domestic and international marketing assistance.
Of all funds proposed for administration under USDA, 72 percent are for nutrition assistance, 15 percent for farm and commodity programs, 6 percent are for conservation and forestry, and all other spending makes up 6 percent of the budget. With the Federal government budgeting over a 10 year horizon, the USDA budget proposes a $38 billion savings over the next 10 years, had budget trends been allowed to continue.
USDA budget writers say the FY 2014 budget reduces the deficit by that $38 billion, while earmarking $1.3 billion for beginning farmers, bioenergy, specialty crops, and organic agriculture.
The President’s Budget also proposes to extend selected livestock disaster assistance programs for 2014 through 2018. $9.5 billion would be spend on crop insurance, $5.5 billion for loans for financially stressed farmers, $4 billion for clean and renewable energy projects, plus other funds for increased enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act, feral swine eradication, and a $383 million funding for increased investment for food research at universities.
Farm Service Agency
2,100 FSA offices remain in operation after 125 were closed in 2012. Operational expenses will decline from $1.666 bil. to $1.59 bil. Loan programs will drop from $3.857 bil. to $3.650 bil. Grant programs will rise from $1.722 bil. to $1.905 bil. Funds are to assist with farm ownership for approximately 8,000 operators.