Congress on Capitol Hill next week, Obama administration to release budget proposal

Congressmen and women will be back in Washington next week after a two-week spring recess. Efforts to conference a budget resolution and begin in FY2014 appropriation process are expected to be at the top of the agenda.

The agriculture community is hoping for movement this spring toward a long-term farm bill, a process that has been stalled by fiscal and political uncertainty. There is talk that the Senate Agriculture Committee is planning to mark-up their farm bill draft at the end of April, but no official date has been set yet.

The Obama Administration is expected to deliver its budget proposal during the week, delayed two months from the traditional and legal deadline. Agricultural groups are anticipating potential changes to the nation’s food aid programs in the budget.

According to the American Soybean Association, proposed changes contained in the budget could restructure the nation’s foreign aid programs by eliminating the Food for Peace and Food for Progress programs and replacing them with a much smaller cash account managed by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“The Food for Peace and Food for Progress programs provide nutritious foods to developing markets and have been a key priority for ASA for multiple years,” said ASA President Danny Murphy. “We are expressly opposed to the replacement of in-kind food aid with cash aid, which takes a key market away from American producers, placing aid recipients at a potential risk by allowing them to purchase commodities from foreign suppliers whose safety and quality are unknown.”

Sources: National Association of Wheat Growers, ASA, National Sorghum Growers