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Congresswoman Robin Kelly

Representing the 2nd District of Illinois

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Trump budget unkind to Illinois farmers

May 27, 2017
Editorial

"A New Foundation for America" is a peculiar title for President Trump's new budget because it erodes the very foundation of our great nation: our farming communities.

At the 30,000-foot level, Trump's budget cuts $38 billion from Farm Bill programs that help Illinois farmers feed our nation and the world. It also includes a more than 20 percent cut to the Department of Agriculture, meaning higher crop insurance premiums and less marketing support.

While these big numbers are shocking and will have a devastating effect on farmers and rural communities, the devil is in the details. The president's budget includes massive reductions or the complete elimination of key programs that keep family farms in operation.

As I talk to farmers throughout Kankakee County, one issue of concern regularly comes up: crop insurance.

Under President Trump's proposal, the Harvest Price Option for Crop Insurance would be removed. This insurance farmers purchase is critical to long-term planting planning.

This isn't the only attack on crop insurance in President Trump's budget. Under President Trump's budget, crop insurance would become more expensive and some farmers could completely lose their crop insurance if they earn more money. Quite simply, President Trump's budget rewards farmers' success by cutting off the vital crop insurance lifeline.

His budget also adds user fees for mandatory inspections and marketing services, further rising costs for farmers struggling to make ends meet against intense foreign competition.

It's no secret our rural communities desperately need jobs. Despite this growing need, President Trump's budget eliminates the Rural Economic Development Program, the only federal program providing grants, zero-interest loans and loan guarantees to rural small businesses, the lifeblood of our economy. Far from creating jobs, eliminating this program will kill jobs throughout rural Illinois and America.

The president's budget also would eliminate the rural water and waste program that ensures our farms, farming families and communities have clean water. In 2016, this program funded 64 projects in Illinois. How many families will be drinking unclean, potentially dangerous, water because President Trump killed this program?

Finally, President Trump's budget ends the Rural Utility Service program that brings broadband internet to rural community. All in all, this budget is a series of broken promises to farmers and rural communities.

You don't have to take my word for it. President Trump's budget has been met with condemnation from agricultural leaders. Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said, "Clearly, this budget fails agriculture and rural America."

The National Corn Growers Association also condemn it saying: "These proposed budget cuts would hurt farmers' ability to manage risk, grow their revenues and farm more sustainably."

As did the American Soybean Association saying, "By shredding our farm safety net, slashing critical agricultural research and conservation initiatives and hobbling our access to foreign markets, this budget is a blueprint for how to make already difficult times in rural America even worse."

It's clear the Trump Budget fails farmers and rural America and must be rejected. It completely ignores the importance of crop insurance, the threat of foreign competition and our need for development investment.

Thankfully, nearly everyone on Capitol Hill – Republicans and Democrats – has dismissed this reckless budget completely.

Know that I'm committed to working with all of my colleagues to craft and pass a budget that invests in farming and rural families instead of leaving them high and dry. To do this, I need to hear your priorities. As always, feel free to call my office at 202-225-0773

U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Matteson, represents Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District, which includes Kankakee and part of Will County. She is the author of the FarmFlex crop insurance provision legislation.

Read the original in the Kankakee Daily-Journal.

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