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Source: Center for Rural Affairs news release

Center for Rural Affairs policy associate Anna Johnson today said America stands to suffer as a result of President Trump's 2019 budget, released this afternoon by the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) and the office of Management and Budget (OMB).

"The President has proposed again to eliminate or shrink many programs that serve rural America, including those supporting rural businesses, cooperatives, and housing," said Johnson. "The President is also calling for an investment of $50 billion in rural infrastructure, but this could put the onus on states already struggling with the economic fallout of depressed commodity prices."

In addition, Trump's budget slashes working lands conservation programs by proposing the elimination of the Conservation Stewardship Program. Johnson said it would be a grave error to remove this vital support to farmers and ranchers.

"The Conservation Stewardship Program gives farmers and ranchers an incredibly important opportunity to plant cover crops, practice soil conservation tillage, and improve pasture land," she said. "Eliminating it would do serious damage to our farmers' and ranchers' abilities to preserve water quality and build soil health while also maintaining productive operations."

Another program threatened by the President's budget is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

"SNAP is often the linchpin between rural and urban representatives in the passage of the farm bill, set to expire in September 2018," said Jordan Rasmussen, Center for Rural Affairs policy associate. "The President's budget strips away nearly $214 billion in funding for SNAP over the next decade."

Rasmussen continued, "Beyond the revocation of funding, the budget outlines a plan to reduce direct SNAP assistance, and instead, distribute quantities of 'American grown,' shelf-stable items like milk, peanut butter, cereals, and canned meats. This action would not only destabilize attempts to bring more healthy, fresh foods into the homes of America's food insecure, but would keep dollars out of local grocery stores and farmers markets, which are critical assets to all communities."

On a positive note, the President's budget includes proposals that would bring greater fairness to farming communities, according to Johnson. For example, the budget targets commodity, conservation, and crop insurance assistance to producers with adjusted gross incomes of $500,000 or less. A similar proposal would limit the number of people who can register as a farm manager and thereby receive payments.

"These proposals would bring long-awaited fairness to our agricultural communities," Johnson said. "For too long, the largest farms have had access to more support than small and mid-sized farms. This competitive advantage for large farms has contributed to farm consolidation and shrinking rural communities."

Johnson said President Trump's budget proposal would drain support for rural America.

"We fear these actions represent a lack of understanding of rural America's struggles," she said. "We urge President Trump, U.S. Department of Agriculture Sec. Perdue, and their teams to cease these actions that undercut rural Americans and rural communities."

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