Budget Proposal to Cut Crop Insurance; USDA Looking to Open Office in Cuba
The Budget proposal released by the White House Tuesday includes a cut to crop insurance. The budget request to Congress calls for a ten-year, $18 billion cut to the federal crop insurance program. The request comes after Congress rejected a $3 billion cut to crop insurance late last year after initially approving the cuts as part of a budget deal at the time. House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway of Texas said the proposal would deal a “severe blow” to farmers and ranchers who already have suffered a 56 percent drop in net farm income.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the United States should open an agricultural office in Cuba and hopes to find funding to do so through the 2017 agriculture appropriations bill. Few other details are available other than Vilsack wants to open the office in Cuba. As part of budget request materials released Tuesday, USDA said the agency needs an in-country presence in Cuba to cultivate key relationships, gain firsthand knowledge of the country’s agricultural challenges and opportunities and develop programs for the mutual benefit of both countries.