Time For Rural America to Stand Up, Fight Back

With the proposed 2018 budget, White House residents have exposed their ignorance of people living in rural America and those born less financially privileged. Their proposed cuts to nutrition programs would hurt the millions of families that receive SNAP – including families in the armed forces – and gut programs such as LIHEAP – the low-income home energy assistance program that in 2016 helped an estimated six million households to be healthy, safe, and energy-efficient.

Many independent agencies, including the Corporation of Public Broadcasting, Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, Appalachian Regional Commission, US Interagency Council on Homelessness, and the Denali Commission would be defunded. In addition, the budget eliminated support for 66 programs; among them the Rural Business Cooperative Service, Community Development Block Grants, Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Analysis, National Wildlife Refuge, OSHA Training Grants, multiple student assistance grants, Global Climate Change Initiative, NOAA grants and programs (including the Coast Guard), and the afore-mentioned LIHEAP. These programs are considered duplicative, low-impact, of lower priority, or better addressed by the private sector.

David Senter, President of American Agriculture Movement and longtime NFFC ally, offered helpful perspectives on the deep cuts at USDA [full text here]:

“Agriculture Secretary Perdue is in a tight spot trying to defend President Trump’s budget for USDA. Driven by OMB Director Mulvaney, it would destroy farm programs, leave Rural America in ruins and undo years of conservation efforts.

The proposal would cut $38 Billion from Farm Programs over 10 years; cut Food Stamps by $193 Billion; limit Conservation Reserve Programs to continuous sign-up plus grassland; eliminate McGovern-Dole school feeding program and Food for Peace, as well as renewable energy; and make major cuts to Rural Development, including water and sewer grants to rural towns. On top of all that, rural housing programs would be let go, as would thousands of USDA employees who provide services daily to the independent family farmers and ranchers of America.

Just selling more production at a loss is not going to solve the problem.  It seems that half our farm publications are filled with stories about exporting our way to profitability. I hate to rain on your parade, but it won’t work for anyone except those that make money from buying, shipping and selling.”

The core of this 2018 budget blueprint was explained as the ‘rebuilding of the US military without adding to our federal deficit’. Paying for a rebuilt US military – already the most expensive in the world – would consist of slashing critical safety net programs that benefit everyone, including housing for homeless veterans and those at risk of homelessness.

Egregious as it is, this budget should inspire the rest of us to work together against the annihilation of justice, civility, and common sense by our Administration and Congress. The people who nurture, teach, and protect our communities in myriad ways deserve that.