Five weeks after he told the largest U.S. farm group that he supports "a [farm] bill that includes crop insurance," President Trump asked Congress to slash the taxpayer-subsidized program by a third. The $26-billion cut over a decade was part of a fiscal 2019 budget package that called for the eradication of USDA's first green-payment program and for denial of crop subsidies and land stewardship payments to people with more than $500,000 in adjusted gross income.
As part of a mammoth package envisioned by the Trump administration, the nation's governors would be given $70 billion in block grants to help finance rural projects such as expansion of broadband service, said two senior White House officials. They said the block grant funding would be available on a more rapid basis than the rest of the $200 billion in federal funding that would be provided for improvements nationwide for all types of public works.
Ten states on the East and West Coasts sued the EPA for its decision to delay until 2020 a clean water rule issued during the Obama era, saying the suspension was hurried into effect "with inadequate public notice, insufficient record support and outside their statutory authority." The original rule was a prominent part of President Trump's campaign for regulatory relief.
The Trump administration is imperiling access to safe and healthy food, throttling organic farmers and siding with meatpackers on livestock sales regulation, said the Food Policy Action Education Fund in a "State of the Plate" report. "This administration’s regulatory rollbacks, political appointments, and executive orders have affected everyone within our food system–from workers to producers to consumers," said Monica Mills, head of the group.
President Trump's nominee to run USDA's farm subsidy and land stewardship programs has waited for three months for a Senate vote, and acknowledges he faces a decision: To file for a fourth term as Iowa state agriculture secretary in this year's elections or wait for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to end his opposition to a vote on him. "I believe there is still hope right now," said nominee Bill Northey told Successful Farming.
A quarter of all the funding in President Trump's forthcoming infrastructure plan would be earmarked for rural America, according to a draft document leaked to Axios. Projects could range from broadband and highways to the electric grid and water lines.
An estimated three-fourths of USDA employees would be furloughed in a federal shutdown, but officials said major activities will continue, such as food stamps, meat inspection and support for the NAFTA negotiations scheduled to resume on Tuesday. Over the weekend, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue sent a series of 12 tweets, most of them illustrated with topical photos, that formed a comprehensive list of ongoing activities.
Nearly a year after taking office, President Trump tabbed farm group official Ken Barbic to be USDA's congressional liaison, rewarding Western growers who backed his campaign. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said he was "very excited by the nomination" while noting that two nominees for top-tier posts at USDA are bottled up in the Senate.
Speaking to a friendly farm crowd, President Trump, who proposed a 36 percent cut in long-term funding for crop insurance last May, said he will work with Congress for a 2018 farm bill “that delivers for all of you and I support a bill that includes crop insurance.” Trump responded to the standing ovation for crop insurance by adding, "I guess you like it."