California fears Trump budget impact on agri

The proposed budget would eliminate a $234.5m ag exports-oriented program and speciality crop grants.

California is worried by the loss of on-farm technical assistance and crop competitiveness programs if President Donald Trump’s proposed budget is passed, a spokesman for California’s Department of Food and Agriculture told Agri Investor.

“Programs covering conservation that provides on-farm technical assistance for farmers and ranchers are of concern, as well as competitiveness programs for our specialty crop sector,” a CDFA spokesman told Agri Investor.

The budget proposals announced last month would see mandatory and discretionary spending by the US Department of Agriculture fall by $11.8 billion, with California fearful that cutbacks will impact the competitiveness of the sector.

“The proposed federal budget has a 20.5 percent reduction, approximately $12 billion, to USDA programs, impacting conservation, nutrition, rural programs, research and trade. These proposed cuts would not only impact farmers and ranchers, but citizens that rely on food assistance programs, cities and rural communities,” the spokesman said.

Programs slated for elimination include the exports-oriented market access and foreign market development programs and the specialty crop block grant program, which last year awarded $22.3 million to California growers of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops.

Karen Ross, secretary of the CDFA, said in response to the proposals that the reductions would “eliminate so many things that matter to agriculture.”

At the national level the administration’s budget is aiming to cut $28.6 billion from the federal crop insurance program to 2027.

The spokesman said the CDFA “anticipates significant changes by Congress to what has been proposed.”

California is the leading US state in cash farm receipts, generating $47 billion worth of output in 2015 according to the CDFA. In 2016 growers faced a 5-7 percent loss in net cash incomes as a result of the five-year long drought that has recently begun to ease.