The Trump administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2019 calls for large changes in funding to the United States Department of Agriculture, and chief among them is reducing crop insurance subsidies.

The FY19 budget request was presented Feb. 12 and calls for Congress to cut taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance by one-third over the next decade. That comes out to around $2.6 billion over 10 years. The announcement came just over a month after President Trump told the American Farm Bureau he would support a farm bill with crop insurance at a Jan. 8 meeting.

Major cuts to these subsidies would have a large effect on Kansas farmers, but they may not make it far. Kansas Farm Bureau Senior Director of Advocacy Ryan Flickner said the cuts will not make it through Congress.

“Presidents propose budgets every year,” Flickner said. “This proposal from President Trump is no different than that of former presidents Bush or Obama – cuts to crop insurance are dead on arrival.”

After being submitted to Congress by the White House, the budget proposal goes to the House and Senate budget committees – which create budget resolutions. Then the House and Senate appropriations committees divide it up between 12 subcommittees, and the proposal is voted on multiple times before ever being approved.

Flickner doesn’t believe cuts to crop insurance will survive the process.

“Congress controls the appropriations process,” Flickner said. “And we look forward to working with appropriations committee members Sen. [Jerry] Moran and Rep. [Kevin] Yoder along with Senate Agriculture Chairman [Pat] Roberts and House Agriculture Committee member Dr. [Roger] Marshall to ensure agriculture has an adequate safety net during depressed farm economic times.”

Roberts, who serves as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, agrees with Flickner. In a joint statement, he and House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway said the proposed cuts will not prevent the committee from creating a farm bill.

“As chairmen of the agriculture committees, the task at hand is to produce a farm bill for the benefit of our farmers, ranchers, consumers and other stakeholders,” Roberts said in the statement. “This budget, as with every other president’s budget before, will not prevent us from doing that job.

“We are committed to maintaining a strong safety net for agricultural producers during these times of low prices and uncertain markets and continuing to improve our nation’s nutrition programs.”

The USDA predicts farm income will be at a 12-year low in 2018. Flickner said farmers need a strong bill from Congress now more than ever.

“Times like these are precisely why Congress needs to reauthorize a farm bill that protects hardworking Americans,” he said. “Both the farmers who grow food, fuel and fiber and the consumers who purchase these items.”

The bill also called for the denial of subsidies and land stewardship payments to farmers with more than $500,000 in adjusted gross income – as well as cuts to several other USDA programs.

Chance Hoener’s agriculture roots started on farms and ranches in southeast Kansas. Now he covers Kansas agriculture as the Kansas Agland editor. Email him with news, photos and other information at or by calling (620) 694-5700, ext. 320.