AGRIBUSINESS: House Ag Leaders Take Differing Opinions On Budget

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House Budget Chair Paul Ryan has released a 10-year spending plan. The proposal is nearly identical to last year’s GOP budget - but according to Ryan would balance the budget and even produce a small surplus in 2023.

That goal is achieved primarily through spending cuts - but also through the addition of more than 3.2-trillion dollars in new tax revenue. That revenue is based on the new projections from the Congressional Budget Office that account for the deal reached at the end of 2012 to raise taxes on those with income over 450-thousand dollars.

Among the cuts outlined - one-trillion dollars would come from mandatory programs - including farm subsidies and food stamps. The cuts to those areas are not detailed. Ryan would also reduce agency spending by 250-billion dollars beyond the automatic sequester cuts that took effect this month.

House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas applauded Ryan for demonstrating an ability to lead by producing a budget - one that balances in 10 years. He said the Ag Committee is still committed to being a part of the solution in addressing the nation’s debt crisis. He notes the committee developed a reform-minded, fiscally responsible farm bill last year that contributed to deficit reduction.

But House Ag Ranking Member Collin Peterson says the Ryan budget isn’t realistic and doesn’t make the balanced, touch choices needed to get the country back on solid financial footing. He says the Ag Committee has repeatedly shown it is possible to work together to find budget savings in a bipartisan fashion by making balanced cuts across farm bill programs.

If the House Republicans take the Ryan budget numbers seriously - Peterson says he doesn’t see how they can be serious about passing long-term farm policy this year. If these are the budget priorities for the House Majority - he says agriculture might best be served by again extending the current farm bill.