By ANN HINCH
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A few days before signing into law broad sequester cuts last Friday, President Obama and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a report detailing what the $85 billion reduction will mean not just nationwide, but to programs in individual states.
Cuts are an annual reduction of 5 percent for non-defense programs, including agriculture and related funding, but because there is only seven months left in the current fiscal year, in order to achieve that 5 percent for 2012-13 the cuts through September will have to be 9 percent, according to the OMB.
“These large and arbitrary cuts will have severe impacts across the government,” the report stated. For ag this year, these include but are not limited to:
•Up to 2,100 fewer food inspections at domestic and foreign facilities, and a two-week furlough for food safety employees, leading to private sector income loss
•At seaports, delays in container examinations could increase from 2-3 to 4-5 days
•Four million fewer “Meals on Wheels” and related nutrition assistance for senior citizens
•600,000 fewer recipients of nutrition assistance programs such as food stamps and Women, Infants and Children, and “at least” 1,600 lost state and local jobs
In addition, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said there will be $34 million-$35 million less in credit for farm operators this year because of the sequester, as well as a loss in funding to thousands of farmers for conservation programs.
He also said there will be less help from the federal government to help farm groups promote overseas trade, which could result in $500 million less in trade opportunities for agriculture.
Vilsack added this could help foreign competitors by giving potential customers the picture of an American supply market not being as certain as it once was.
And, he will have to cut down on federal meat inspectors (see related article). “There is not enough flexibility in this sequester language for me to move money around to avoid furloughs of food inspectors,” he said.
“It is not something I want to do, it is not something I like doing, but it is the law and it is something I will have to do.”
Natural resources and food cuts to individual states in the Farm World area this year include, according to the OMB:
•In Indiana, a loss of $3.3 million in environmental funding for clean air and water, and $739,000 less in grants for fish and wildlife protection, as well as a $820,000 cut in funds for senior meals
•In Illinois, a loss of $6.4 million in clean air and water funds and $974,000 less for fish and wildlife protection, as well as $764,000 less for senior meals
•In Iowa, $2.4 million lost for clean air and water programs and $661,000 less for fish and wildlife, and $220,000 less for senior meals
•In Michigan, $5.9 million in lost clean water and air funding and $1.5 million in lost fish and wildlife protection grants, as well as $1.8 million less for senior meals
•In Ohio, $6.9 million less for clean water and air programs and $981,000 in lost fish and wildlife grants, and $823,000 less for senior meals
•In Kentucky, a loss of $2.1 million in clean water and air programs and $774,000 for fish and wildlife protection, and $677,000 in lost senior meal funding
•In Tennessee, $2.2 million less for clean water and air and $1.2 million in lost grants for fish and wildlife protection, as well as $1.03 million less for senior meals