White House Budget Slashes USDA Funding, May Cut Popular Conservation Programs

Published Mar 16, 2017

WASHINGTON (March 16, 2017)—Today the Trump administration released a budget calling for a 21% decrease in funding for the Department of Agriculture (USDA), proportionally the third largest reduction of any federal agency. While the budget lacked detailed reductions it proposed deep cuts to staffing for the USDA’s Service Center Agencies, which would drastically reduce the number of field staff who provide direct technical assistance to farmers, and suggested private sector funding could replace public funding for conservation programs popular with farmers and which enjoy wide bipartisan support. Overall, the listed reductions did not appear amount to the overall $4.7 billion in cuts requested, opening the door to further cuts in the future.

Below is a statement by Ricardo Salvador, director of the food and environment program at UCS.

“While scant on details, the President’s proposed USDA budget slashes funding for programs vital to farmers and rural Americans. Suggestions of private sector conservation planning and changes to priorities in the USDA Research, Education, and Economics Mission Area Budget open the door to further cuts to popular and proven programs that support farmers and benefit taxpayers.

“The Trump administration claims to use ‘an evidence based approach to improving programs and services [by] using real, hard data,’ yet this budget shows the contrary. We should invest in programs that employ science-based practices proven to increase farmer profits and yields while ensuring clean air and water for all. This proposal is just the first step in the FY2018 budget and appropriations process. We look forward to defending the programs that are critical to farmers, rural America and a healthy environment.”