During a press call on Monday Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack outlined the ramifications of the budget put forth by President Obama on the USDA. He told reporters that all in the appropriations process have recognized that USDA has done and will continue to do quite a bit for deficit reduction. According to Vilsack the budget is a stable one, that with cuts and increases in different areas, the amount in the discretionary budget is roughly the same as in 2011.
"The budget that we are proposing is going to give us the ability to utilize time to manage the cuts that have been ordered over the course of the past couple of years," Vilsack said. "Also give us additional time to properly implement additional changes that will be forthcoming as a result of our administrative services project and will enable us to continue to provide the help that has led to record income levels for producers and lower unemployment in rural America."
Vilsack says that during the past two years not only has USDA seen reduction in discretionary funds but also and effort on their part in terms of mandatory programs, particularly in conservation and savings due to renegotiating a new standard for crop insurance. He says they expect additional savings once Congress passes a new farm bill.
"There are obviously tradeoffs in a budget that is stable," Vilsack said. "All told there is somewhere in the neighborhood of about 30 programs that are impacted or affected either by being eliminated or by being reduced, which is consistent with the tough choices and tough call that have to be made."
Vilsack says that the savings will allow USDA to avoid furloughs and layoffs and continue to grow the economy of rural America.
To hear Vilsacks remarks on the USDA budget use the audio player on this page.