President unveils 2015 budget proposal
President Obama unveiled Tuesday morning his budget proposal for the federal government for fiscal year 2015. While the reality is that this budget blueprint will never be enacted as both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate will offer counter-proposals and ultimately pass appropriations legislation, it does help clarify what President Obama’s priorities will be during this congressional midterm election year.
Overall, President Obama’s proposed budget would spend $3.9 trillion and result in a $564 billion budget deficit, down from a $649 billion deficit in fiscal year 2014. It would increase spending for transportation infrastructure, invest in “cutting edge research” on topics ranging from human health, climate change, agriculture and more, expand early childhood education, increase tax credits for the working poor, invest in job training and more.
“What I offer in this Budget is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class—all while continuing to improve the Nation’s long-run fiscal position,” said President Obama in his budget message.
What’s in it for agriculture and rural economies? There are likely many a detail I’ve overlooked, but here are a few highlights:
- While there was no specific proposed dollar amount outlined, the overall budget allocated $7.9 billion to EPA. The top priority for the agency was supporting the President’s climate action plan, which includes three overarching themes: “cutting carbon pollution; preparing the national for the impacts of climate change that cannot be avoided; and leading international efforts to address climate change.”
- Calls on EPA and USDA to build on “existing collaboration…to improve water quality across the United States.”
- $300 million, the amount needed to leverage existing resources to initiate construction in 2015, of the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kan., that would replace the Plum Island facility to study large animal zoonotic diseases and develop countermeasures to protect our citizens and agricultural economy from future threats.
- $124 million to support, expand and enhance E-Verify.
- $150 million for a new program to “redesign high schools to focus on providing students with challenging, relevant learning experiences” and encourage partnerships between high schools and colleges, employers and others to help prepare high school students to succeed in today’s economy.
- $23 billion in discretionary funds to USDA to invest in some of the following:
- $58 million for a new economic development grant program designed to target small and emerging private businesses and cooperatives in rural areas;
- Doubles current funding for broadband grants, which is expected to support 16 rural communities;
- $75 million to support three multidisciplinary institutes, with one dedicated to bio-based manufacturing, one to focus on antimicrobial resistance research; and the third on crop science and pollinator health;
- More than $600 million in other agriculture-related research initiatives;
- Includes proposals to “reduce subsidies to farmers and crop insurance companies” to “reasonable levels.”
- Fall tests for nematodes help keep crops healthy
- National Agricultural Genotyping Center announces partnership
- Surging soy, U.S. dollar quotes highlight Friday futures trading
- EU’s leading plant scientists call for action to defend research
- Digi-Star introduces WeighLog hydraulic weighing system
- Surging U.S. dollar values weighed on ag markets Friday morning