The Obama administration today proposed a $25.7 billion budget for discretionary programs at USDA in FY10, up from $24.1 billion in FY09. While the budget does not cover mandatory farm subsidy and nutrition programs, it funds programs such as the expansion of broadband service in rural areas, food safety, conservation and research.
The budget includes previously announced proposals to phase out direct payments to farmers with more than $500,000 in sales; limit a farmer's subsidies to $250,000 per year; cut crop insurance; and reduce a program to sell U.S. food abroad. Lawmakers, however, have already panned the proposals.
Other provisions include adding $1 billion to the child nutrition budget and setting aside $1.25 billion to settle the remaining civil rights claims of black farmers from the Pigford v. Glickman lawsuit. The budget would cut $5 billion in USDA grants to help rural public television stations convert to digital broadcasting and eliminate the rural empowerment grants program.
The USDA budget also terminates numerous member projects, including a $24 million watershed and flood prevention program, on the grounds that Congress earmarked the money, preventing USDA from allocating the funds based on merit. It also offers no new funding for the Agricultural Research Service buildings and facilities program, which got $47 million in FY09.