While most of the nation was focused Monday on President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal, key food aid and farm lobbyists were highlighting the potential impact of the House Republicans’ proposed 2011 budget cuts on hungry people around the world and on American farmers. The House started debate Tuesday on a package of about $60 billion in cuts for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year. The budget battle still has a tough row to hoe, however, because the Democratic-controlled Senate opposes the cuts. If the budget cuts proposed by House Republicans go into effect, nearly 18 million hungry people worldwide will lose American food aid and farmers will lose benefits guaranteed to them under the 2008 farm bill. Lobbyists are firing up campaigns to try to stop the cuts in either the House or the Senate. The federal government is operating under a continuing resolution in effect until March 4, and Congress needs to pass a new spending bill by that date. This 2011 proposal, which was announced Friday and would cover the period until the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, is unrelated to the budget proposal for fiscal year 2012 that President Obama announced Monday. Of that $60 billion cut, $5.2 billion would come from the agriculture function, and there would be additional cuts to food aid in the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development budgets. The agriculture budget cut includes a $747 million reduction in the special nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children known as WIC, but the impact of that cut is unclear because the birth rate is down. The House is expected to act on its proposal by the end of this week, but the Senate may move so slowly that there may be another continuing resolution before Congress passes a final bill to fund the government through Sept. 30.
- KMZU Country Strong