Agriculture has already paid enough

Agriculture has already paid enough
At a time when our farmers and ranchers are facing record high energy prices, this Administration is asking them to tighten their belts another notch by chipping away even further at promises made in the last farm bill.

It is very difficult to see the budget cuts made predominantly at the expense of ordinary people and struggling family farmers and ranchers when huge agri-businesses continue to reap millions without effective payment caps in place.� It is a mistake to cannibalize this farm bill more than it already has been.�

Yet, the Administration and majority party here in Congress are searching for billions of dollars in savings in agriculture alone.� The Senate Agriculture Committee recently passed and the Senate will soon consider $3 billion in cuts to meet a revised budget.��

The Senate Agriculture Committee has recommended to the full Senate that we carve away at conservation programs alone by $1 billion and cut all commodity programs across the board by 2.5 percent.

America can do better than cutting a hole in the safety net our family farmers and rural communities depend upon.�Unfortunately, I fear that this is part of an upsetting pattern.�

As the falls harvest continues in South Dakota, I am hearing from producers who are concerned with many of the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) recent actions. The USDA was intended to foster economic development in our rural communities, ensuring farmers have a market for their products.� Regrettably, I believe they have fallen short.

The USDA has yet to pay producers for the agriculture drought assistance package that Congress secured last year. The package containing the Livestock Assistance Program and American Indian Livestock Feed Program was signed into law on October 13, 2004, but the USDA still has not cut checks to all producers.�

USDA's continued excuses with respect to computer glitches are unacceptable, and I have expressed these frustrations to USDA. Producers are waiting on payments and have made financial decisions around this promised money.

This was followed by the USDA's failed proposal to close 24 percent of South Dakota's FSA Service Centers, cutting more than 700 offices nationwide through the Department's "FSA Tomorrow" plan. Producers depend on FSA offices for Farm Bill program information, and closing these offices means problems with Farm Bill implementation.�

The USDA admitted that it was congressional pressure that made them discard the plan.�

I certainly understand setting priorities and keeping your fiscal house in order.� However, the Administration and majority party are pushing these cuts at a time when the Farm Bill is already costing $14 billion less than expected when it was first signed into law and while still more costly tax cuts for multi-millionaires are being preserved.��

Agriculture has already paid enough.

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