The House Ag Committee of the 115th Congress has conducted full Committee and Subcommittee Farm Bill hearings over the past few months on a variety of issues, including: the farm economy; conservation; rural development and energy programs; specialty crops; livestock and dairy issues; farm policy and farm credit, and cotton. In addition, the Committee also heard perspective on the farm economy and farm policy last month from Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. Last week, the House Ag Committee continued its policy work by holding two hearings: one, which covered SNAP (food stamps) technology and modernization issues, and another that underscored the importance of international food aid. Today's update focuses on the developments related to the SNAP program.
Andrew Soergel reported earlier this week at U.S. News Online that, "As President Donald Trump's administration sifts through its trade toolbox, preparing to tinker with the North American Free Trade Agreement, the agriculture world is holding its breath."
Mary A. Marchant indicated recently at Choices Online that, "International trade deficits have recently been reputed as 'bad' for the economy; however, agriculture has posted a trade surplus since 1959. For U.S. agriculture, trade represents 20% of farmers’ income on average, and more for specific commodities—70% for cotton and tree nuts; 50% for wheat, rice, and soybeans: and almost 20% for meat and dairy products. Thus, tossing trade would be comparable to U.S. farmers destroying 20% of their yields. China, which has advanced to become the United States’ largest agricultural export market in an unprecedented time frame, plays a key role in the economic wellbeing of U.S. agriculture."
Recent news articles have pointed to ongoing concerns with respect to President Trump's budget proposals, specifically when it comes to proposed cuts to crop insurance and the SNAP program (food stamps). Late last month, lawmakers on the House Ag Appropriations Subcommittee discussed these issues with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, and today's update provides additional perspective on these budget items.
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve Board released its May 2017 Beige Book update, a summary of commentary on current economic conditions by Federal Reserve District. The report included several observations pertaining to the U.S. agricultural economy.
Janet Adamy and Paul Overberg reported on the front page of Saturday's Wall Street Journal that, "At the corner where East North Street meets North Cherry Street in the small Ohio town of Kenton, the Immaculate Conception Church keeps a handwritten record of major ceremonies. Over the last decade, according to these sacramental registries, the church has held twice as many funerals as baptisms. In tiny communities like Kenton, an unprecedented shift is under way. Federal and other data show that in 2013, in the majority of sparsely populated U.S. counties, more people died than were born—the first time that’s happened since the dawn of universal birth registration in the 1930s."
Yesterday, the Senate Ag Committee held a hearing titled, "Examining the Farm Economy: Perspectives on Rural America," where lawmakers heard testimony from four witnesses, including the Chief Economist from USDA, and a Federal Reserve Bank district economist. Today's update provides an overview of yesterday's meeting with particular emphasis on crop prices, land values, and trade. Recall that the House Ag Committee held a similar hearing on the farm economy back in February.
Yesterday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture held a hearing with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to discuss the Administration’s priorities for the Department of Agriculture and to review the President’s proposed 2018 budget. Today's update highlights two issues that lawmakers discussed at yesterday's meeting: Crop Insurance and the SNAP (food stamps) program.
Reuters writer P.J. Huffstutter reported earlier this week that, "The White House budget on Monday proposed $46.54 billion in cuts to federal government funding for the agriculture sector over the next 10 years. President Donald Trump's biggest cut would come in the form of a $38 billion bite out of farm supports, including new limits on federal subsidies for crop insurance premiums and caps for commodity payments."
Donnelle Eller reported on the front page of Sunday's Des Moines Register that, "This year could be pivotal for many Iowa farmers, battling to turn a profit as they plant 23.4 million corn and soybean acres across the state. Financial pressure is beginning to show."