BILLINGS – As America’s farmers continue to endure low commodity prices, President Trump is drawing sharp criticism from rural America after his proposed budget revealed a $26 billion cut to crop insurance which is helping producers stay in business during these tough times.
“As we look at this budget, the proposed cuts to crop insurance are just disastrous,” said Lyle Benjamin, president of the Montana Grain Grower’s Association. “We’re in pretty tough times right now. The current trade war certainly has fallen on rural America. And the robust crop insurance program is all that we’ve had to depend on. It’s kept a lot of Montana farms out of bankruptcy last couple of years, and certainly we’re going into a new year that looks kind of the same.”
But farmers like Benjamin remain optimistic that new trade deals, like the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), will be good for American agriculture. In the meantime, they say it’s critical the original North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) remains in place until Congress ratifies the new USMCA.
“The NAFTA agreement has to stay in place,” Benjamin added. “It’s a foundational block that we trade on currently. Without that, we revert back to pre-1993 trade arrangements, and that’s just not real workable for, frankly, all of American industry as well as agriculture.”
President Trump has threatened to withdraw from the original NAFTA deal as a way to put pressure on Congress to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. As for his budget proposal, even though the White House Office of Management and Budget makes an aggressive show of proposed cuts, it’s also important to remember that Congress is the branch of government with the final say.
-By Russell Nemetz – MTN News