Local Farmers Fear Budget Cuts to Department of Agriculture

LUBBOCK, TX - As President Donald Trump released his proposed budget for 2018, local agriculture producers voiced their concerns about deep cuts to Ag funding.

"We just have to deal with it as it comes, but certainly it is troubling," said Steve Verett, a farmer, and Executive Vice President of Plains Cotton Growers, Incorporated. "The people that supported this administration and Mister Trump in particular were the rural folks."

"Those of us in rural America tend to be supportive of the military and want to make sure we have a strong defense," Verett said, acknowledging that the Department of Agriculture is one of several who tend to face budget cuts.

"We have to kind of take these things, the good with the bad, and then understand how the process really works, so we'll be continuing to be in there fighting to make sure that agriculture is well represented, and that at the end of the day we come out okay," Verett said.

Trump's $1.15 trillion proposal includes $54 billion in additional spending for the Department of Defense, while a laundry list of other departments looking at cuts, and some facing elimination.

"We have to understand this tells you where the priorities are of an administration, especially where we're looking at doing some new things for cotton, or bringing cotton back under Title 1," Verett said. "It gives us the idea that we've still got a challenge in front of us."

"The other big part of the USDA budget that is troubling is some research dollars that's looking like it's going to be cut," he added.

"We rely heavily as an industry in those research dollars to provide the tools that we need," he explained. "Texas Tech relies on those research dollars as well."

House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway said in a statement on Thursday he understood the focus on armed forces, but worried about Ag's representation at the table. Click here to read Conaway's statement.

The proposed budget is merely a recommendation for Congress, which needs to pass the budget before it becomes finalized.


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