Congress is wrapping up a two-week recess and will be back in session next week with a busy schedule on tap. The Senate is expected to kick it off on Monday with a confirmation vote on Governor Sonny Perdue to be the Secretary of Agriculture. This long-awaited vote is welcome news to wheat farmers across the country who have been waiting months for a top leader to be installed at the Department. NAWG urges all Senators to vote yes on his nomination.
Congress also must act this week on an FY 2017 funding bill before the end of the week in order to avoid a government shutdown. The federal government is currently operating under a continuing resolution which lasts through April 28, 2017. Possible options could be passage of another short-term CR in order to allow for more time for negotiations on a longer-term spending bill, passage of a CR that lasts through the remainder of FY 2017, or passage of a new omnibus appropriations bill.
As of this writing, no proposal had yet been publicly announced for the path forward on appropriations. NAWG strongly urges Congress to act on an appropriations bill prior to April 28 in order to avoid a government shutdown. Particularly given the state of the agriculture economy, a government shutdown would have terrible effects on producers throughout the country. The shuttering of USDA service centers would delay producers’ ability to access FSA credit programs, their ability to enroll in FSA’s title 1 programs, and delay sign-up for and delivery of USDA conservation programs. Producers rely on their USDA offices for a number of different services, and a government shutdown would have a ripple effect throughout rural America.
Aside from FY 2017 appropriations, efforts are also underway for drafting FY 2018 appropriations bills. As part of the appropriations process, President Trump has previously released a budget proposal that is focused on discretionary spending. In that proposal is included a 21 percent reduction to USDA’s discretionary budget. President Trump is also expected to release in the coming weeks a more detailed budget proposal that could include changes to mandatory program spending.