The Trump administration’s budget-cutting plans for next year may well include a test, or even a full-scale revival, of “America’s Harvest Box,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday.
Under orders from President Trump to cut spending by 5 percent, the USDA may try to slash the taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance program, eliminate a green-payment program, or take an ax to its research agencies, if recent proposals are any indication.
Two administration officials “who worked on the idea” say the White House proposal of a monthly “Harvest Box” of preselected food for poor Americans “was intended to lay down a marker that the administration is serious” about revamping the food stamp program, said the New York Times.
The Republican-controlled Senate Budget Committee plans to approve its fiscal 2018 budget resolution this week. It will open the gate to $1.5 trillion in tax cuts over 10 years. The resolution, a blueprint for federal spending, foregoes any cuts in farm-bill programs, unlike the House package, which seeks a $10-billion cut in food stamps over a decade.
With farm income in a slump, the government should be a partner, not an adversary, to farmers and ranchers, said the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee in ruling out cuts to the federally subsidized crop insurance program. “Let me emphasize that crop insurance is, for many, the most valuable tool in the risk management toolbox,” said chairman Pat Roberts.
House Budget chairwoman Diane Black is trying to line up fractious Republicans to support budget cuts of a penny on the dollar for mandatory spending programs over the next 10 years. If Budget Committee members agree, that ratio would trim around $10 billion from programs that would be part of the new farm bill, a smaller amount than the $17 billion cut from crop supports, conservation and food stamps in the 2014 farm law.
With the big budget battle in another arena, House appropriators proposed steady-as-you go funding for the USDA and FDA in the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1. President Trump has proposed cutting food stamps by 25 percent and crop insurance by 36 percent.
Some 700 rural hospitals, which serve a largely older, sicker, and poorer population than most U.S. hospitals, are at risk of closing. Now, with the cuts to Medicaid being considered in Washington as part of the healthcare debate, their prospects could be even darker.
House Republicans are expected to caucus today to discuss a budget package that reportedly increases military spending while cutting domestic programs. The food stamp program is commonly mentioned as a target in government-wide cuts to domestic spending that could total $150 billion over 10 years.