FarmPolicy

August 20, 2018

Sen. Blunt Discusses CR and Sequester on Monday

Categories: Budget

Sen. Roy Blunt (R., Mo.) discussed the continuing resolution (CR) and sequester on the Senate floor on Monday.

In particular, Sen. Blunt highlighted an amendment he had offered regarding budget funding prioritization to facilitate the ability of the federal government, including the USDA, to keep essential employees, such as meat inspectors, from being furloughed.

A portion of his remarks on this issue can be viewed here:

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Farm Bill; Budget; Trade; and, Biofuels

Farm Bill Issues

On Friday, the President’s Council of Economic Advisers released its annual Economic Report of the President (full report), this year’s report contains a chapter on Agriculture, which can be found here, “Chapter 8: Challenges and Opportunities in U.S. Agriculture.”

The report provided this brief overview of how agriculture fits into the rest of the U.S. economy, which also has inherent political ramifications: “In the 1920s, farm households accounted for more than 25 percent of the U.S. workforce and generated approximately 8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Today they account for only 1.6 percent of the work force and generate approximately 1 percent of GDP. Over the same period, the rural share of the population has fallen far less, from 49 percent to 19 percent, suggesting that rural areas are less dependent on farming’s contribution to the rural economy (Table 8-1) . The agricultural sector is still vital to our country, but because of growth in other sectors of the economy and rapid gains in agricultural productivity that have lowered the relative prices of agricultural products, it has become a smaller share of the U.S. economy.”

In reference to U.S. farm policy the report indicated that, “Highly volatile agricultural commodity prices can create significant income risk for farmers. At the same time, the current farm safety net is inefficient and unfair, creating distortions in production and crowding out market-based risk management options.”

Adding provisions that make lands that have not previously been used to grow crops ineligible for crop insurance or other Federal benefits would help protect the nation’s prairies and forests from being converted into marginal cropland,” the report added.

Also, the report noted that, “For example, the increasing reliance of farm families on income earned from sources other than their farms and a shift toward market-oriented farm policies have made farms and commodity markets less vulnerable to adverse price changes than before. These changes imply that moving away from traditional commodity support programs would have a much smaller impact on farm household income than in previous decades. Nonetheless, substantial government support of agriculture remains.”

And, the report also pointed out that, “One-third of beginning farmers are over age 55, indicating that many farmers move into agriculture only after retiring from a different career.”

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