The recently enacted Agricultural Act of 2014 extends numerous authorities for five years and establishes what a White House fact sheet said as “stability for important agriculture, rural development, renewable energy, and nutrition programs.”
Building on this achievement, the President’s 2015 Budget released March 4 provides $23.7 billion in discretionary resources, a decrease of roughly $938 million from the 2014 enacted level.
In recent years crop insurance has been a proposed way to obtain greater savings. Although Congress rejected many of the proposed cuts to premiums and the private insurance agency, the President again called for reductions to more “reasonable levels.”
The current crop insurance program costs the government on average $9 billion a year to run with $3 billion going to the private insurance companies to administer and underwrite the program and $6 billion per year in premium subsidies to the farmers.
“These proposals will modify the structure of the crop insurance program so that it is less costly to the taxpayer yet still provides a quality safety net for farmers. Collectively these proposals are expected to save $14 billion over 10 years,” the fact sheet noted.
The Budget supports research in key areas important to American agriculture such as climate resilience and advanced genetics. The Budget includes $325 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative competitive research program.
In addition, the Budget includes $75 million to support three multidisciplinary institutes, with one dedicated to advanced biobased manufacturing, another to focus on anti-microbial resistance research, and the third on crop science and pollinator health. These institutes, recommended by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, will leverage the best research within the public and private sectors to create opportunities for new business ventures funded by the private sector.
Above the base level of funding in the Budget for agricultural and forestry research, the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative provides an additional $295 million to support high priority in-house research; enhance funding for competitive research, including an additional $20 million to encourage competitively awarded grants through land grant formula programs; and build a new biosafety research laboratory in Athens, GA. “This modern facility is USDA’s highest research construction priority and would result in the consolidation of two outdated facilities,” the White House said.