Wednesday’s White House budget proposal would provide $22.6 billion in discretionary spending to the Department of Agriculture, similar to the amount the agency received in the 2012 budget enacted by Congress.
The proposal includes a series of cost-saving measures at the USDA in coming years, including eliminating direct farm payments, decreasing crop insurance subsidies and targeting conservation programs.
But it also proposes new investments in renewable energy and rural development, such as $4 billion in loans to rural electric cooperatives and utilities to support the transition to clean energy. It also includes increased funding for high-priority research topics such as nutrition and obesity, food safety, sustainable agriculture and climate change.
The president’s budget also proposes a continued steady level of funding for the USDA’s supplemental nutrition programs, the food assistance safety net that a growing number of Americans have turned to in recent years. More than 47 million people currently benefit from the agency’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the budget proposal says funding for such programs should remain “at a time of continued need.”