Trump Backstabs The Heartland With Proposed Budget Cuts To Agriculture Department

Rural Donald Trump campaign sign

Trump’s proposed budget, like Trumpcare™ and his Muslim Travel ban is receiving well-deserved criticism everywhere today. His biggest cut is a blow to the EPA, at 31.4%, because creating a toxic environment seems a priority for Republicans today. One of his next biggest cuts comes to the Agriculture Department with a $5 billion cut, or 20.7% decrease.

Translation: This means you, rural Trump voters. Will you stand for this blatant backstabbing to America’s farmers and the proverbial Heartland?

As economist Robert Reich points out, “Trump’s budget is all about helping corporations & the military-industrial complex, while shafting everyone else.”

Bernie Sanders points out, “Trump’s budget is morally obscene and bad economic policy. It will cause pain to the people Trump promised to help.”

America’s Heartland turned out the vote for Trump, something that Breitbart exaggerated greatly by the way. Trump has, in turn, slashed funding to water programs, staffing of local Farm Service Agency offices, and activities in rural development as well as rural businesses. Meanwhile, the USDA is not in a good position to defend itself. The USDA is operating currently in limbo with an acting deputy in place, as the Agriculture secretary post hasn’t been confirmed yet.

Trump’s pick for Ag secretary is no different than most of his other cabinet picks, a white male with a sketchy background. Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue was noted for being a fan of the Confederacy, enacting severe voter ID laws, immigration crackdowns, and enjoyed a past of cronyism and interests “intertwined with the industry he will now regulate,” according to Mother Jones. Sounds par for the course with Trump.

The USDA’s duties are to oversee agriculture, rural communities and nutritional programs, including funding for school lunches. They also publish global farming production statistics.

“A lot of farmers and growers rely on USDA’s statistical capabilities to make a lot of marketing and risk management decisions and planting decisions,” said John Newton, AFBF director of market intelligence.

According to Reuters, the budget proposal would eliminate a food aid program which had $182 million in funding earmarked for fiscal 2017. CNBC reported that food stamps, the federal government’s nutritional assistance program, required 80 percent of the department’s $156 billion of spending in 2016. Trump’s budget would also kill funding for Meals on Wheels, removing the Community Development Block Grant program that funded it completely.

President Trump’s Office of Management and Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney called the proposal to cut Meals on Wheels “compassionate,” because it would protect taxpayers from putting money toward inefficient or ineffective programs, reminiscent of the use of the words, “act of mercy” from Paul Ryan as he gleefully destroys affordable health care.

Collin Peterson, House Ag Committee Ranking Member from Minnesota, said the cuts in USDA are bad for the heartland. “It demonstrates a lack of understanding of farm programs and their impact on rural America,” he said.

“County offices are already understaffed and further cuts would mean private organizations would be tasked with helping farmers navigate farm programs. Again, it’s a general lack of understanding of what really takes place in rural America,” Peterson said.

“I strongly oppose the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts to programs that are critical to farmers, ranchers and families in small towns across America,” Debbie Stabenow, ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) was also critical of Trump’s budget cuts.

“I am concerned that the cuts, while relatively small in the context of the total federal budget, could hamper some vital work of the department,” Conaway said. “I think it is very important to remember that net farm income is down 50 percent from where it stood just four years ago. America’s farmers and ranchers are struggling, and we need to be extremely careful not to exacerbate these conditions,” Conway said.

Both of North Dakota’s Senators have been critical of Trump’s budget. Senator Heitkamp said, “This budget would seriously hurt North Dakota and rural America.”

Senator John Hoeven simply said, “The President’s proposed budget reduction for Agriculture does not work.”

Christopher Lu, former United States Deputy Secretary of Labor said, “This is an incredibly heartless budget. It’s hard for me to imagine a budget more at odds with the President’s promise to help working class Americans. Cuts in education, job training, assistance to the homeless, low-income heating, Meal on Wheels. This does not reflect our country or our country’s values.”

The White House has said it plans to release a traditional full budget in mid-May. It’s certainly doubtful that revisions will be enough to help rural farmers and communities who voted for Trump, only to find themselves without health care or other forms of assistance.

Featured image: Trump sign from Wikimedia Commons

About Matthew Silvan 283 Articles
Matthew Silvan is a gay man from the American South who has spent years fighting against the scapegoating and demonization imposed on the LGBT community by Republicans and religious hypocrites and zealots. His writing reflects the constant struggle to overcome the inequality and discrimination still rampant in America. He is an advocate for diversity and progress, with a passion for nature and preserving the environment, who also tends to approach things in a lighthearted way despite it all.

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