Secretary Perdue Distances Himself from Administration’s Proposed Crop Insurance Cuts02/14/2018
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is distancing himself from President Trump’s last proposals to slash crop insurance. But Perdue says a separate proposal to convert the food stamp program from cash benefits to a commodity distribution plan originated with his department.
Agri-Pulse caught up with Perdue at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif., yesterday, where he assured reporters that Trump “understands the value of the safety net of crop insurance.” He added that “Congress will put their stamp on it (the budget) as well.”
Perdue said the president’s widely criticized proposal to overhaul the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program originated with USDA. Under the proposal, half of SNAP benefits would be provided through packages of processed foods, including shelf-stable milk, peanut butter and canned vegetables and meat.
Perdue says those food packages would be a “more effective, efficient way” to deliver SNAP benefits.
Crop insurance proposals ‘scare’ farmers
The crop insurance cuts will never get through the House and Senate Agriculture committees, but the proposals are likely to embolden the program’s critics during floor debates on farm bill amendments.
The budget also will unnecessarily frighten both famers and bankers who don’t understand that such proposals can’t pass Congress, says Texas A&M University economist Joe Outlaw. “The reality is it scares people. It scares bankers, and it’s probably not very helpful,” he said, speaking at a Farm Foundation forum yesterday.
Praise for infrastructure proposals
On the other hand, Perdue praised the infrastructure agenda laid out by President Donald J. Trump, specifically its emphasis on investment in rural America. The plan calls for 25 percent of new federal funds to be dedicated to rural infrastructure needs, as prioritized by state and local leaders.
Perdue issued the following statement:
“President Trump has made it a priority to rebuild our infrastructure since the day he took office and he has followed through on that commitment. No area of the country needs investment in infrastructure more than rural America. With a quarter of the new federal money heading to rural parts of the country, states will have the ability to expand broadband access, increase connectivity, rebuild roads, and supply affordable utilities. Importantly, states will have the flexibility to choose which projects will best meet their unique needs.
“Our Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, which President Trump created on my first day as secretary of agriculture, identified infrastructure – and specifically access to high-speed Internet – as a key area where rural America must improve. In my travels across the country, I have heard from the people in the Heartland, and the overwhelming view is that this is just the type of investment they are looking for to help create jobs, improve education, improve the quality of life, and increase overall prosperity. Once again, by his words and deeds, President Trump is proving that he has rural America close to his heart.”