By Anna Johnson, Center for Rural Affairs
America stands to suffer as a result of President Trump’s 2019 budget, released on Feb. 12.
The president has proposed again to eliminate or shrink many programs that serve rural America, including those supporting rural businesses, cooperatives, and housing.
Trump is also calling for an investment of $50 billion in rural infrastructure, but this could put the onus on states already struggling with the economic fallout of depressed commodity prices.
In addition, the budget slashes working lands conservation programs by proposing the elimination of the Conservation Stewardship Program. The program gives farmers and ranchers opportunities to do such things as plant cover crops or improve pasture land. Eliminating it would do serious damage to our farmers’ and ranchers’ abilities to preserve water quality and build soil health while also maintaining productive operations.
On a positive note, the president’s budget includes proposals that would bring greater fairness to farming communities. For example, the budget targets commodity, conservation, and crop insurance assistance to producers with adjusted gross incomes of $500,000 or less. A similar proposal would limit the number of people who can register as a farm manager and thereby receive payments.
For too long, the largest farms have had access to more support than small and mid-sized farms. This competitive advantage for large farms has contributed to farm consolidation and shrinking rural communities. These proposals would bring long-awaited fairness to our agricultural communities.
Mostly, however, Trump’s budget proposal would drain support for rural America. We fear these actions represent a lack of understanding of rural America’s struggles.
We urge President Trump and our national lawmakers to cease these actions that undercut rural Americans and rural communities.