On March 1, across-the-board spending cuts, known here in Washington as “the sequester,” took effect when Congress was unable to reach a new agreement on the budget. These cuts are required by law for every item within USDA’s budget, and they will impact all of the work we do in some way.
Under the Obama Administration, USDA already has made historic efforts to streamline operations and safeguard taxpayer dollars. Under our Blueprint for Stronger Service, we have carried out workforce reductions, closed offices and laboratories, and streamlined IT services. We have cut our travel costs by more than 42 percent since 2010. We’re always looking for new ways to save more.
These targeted efforts have already saved taxpayers more than $700 million. In fact, our operating budget today is lower than it was in 2009. Read more »
Last week, President Obama and I announced our proposal for USDA’s budget next year. We are focused on building a strong American economy that will maintain a basic promise for middle class: if you work hard, you can do well enough to raise a family, own a home, and put a little away for retirement.
USDA plays a key role in that effort, supporting farmers, ranchers and growers enjoying record farm income, providing nutrition assistance to families struggling to get by, and creating jobs and building a foundation for future economic growth, especially in rural America. The USDA budget will help us to continue this progress, supporting robust farm income and good jobs in rural communities. Read more »
In January, President Obama called upon the U.S. Department of Agriculture and all other U.S. agencies to perform a government-wide review of current federal regulations to update, streamline and remove excessive rules. This review, prompted by Executive Order 13563, was intended to minimize burdens on individuals, businesses and communities attempting to access programs that promote economic growth, improve access to resources, create jobs, and protect the health and safety of the American people.
Since then, USDA has sought public comment on best practices for simplifying and reducing reporting burdens for entry into critical programs, while reducing administrative and operating costs by sharing data across relevant agencies. These programs range from rural economic development initiatives, to measures governing national forest usage and soil conservation, to emergency producer assistance as a result of natural disasters. Read more »
Since coming into office in 2009, President Obama and I have taken important steps to avoid potential economic collapse, and strengthen the American economy for future generations. America’s families have tightened their belts during these difficult times, and government needs to do the same. That is why the Fiscal Year 2012 budget looks for opportunities to cut waste and streamline operations – but also proposes cutting programs that the President and I care about to work towards controlling the deficits. Last year, USDA provided $4 billion to help pay down the debt by renegotiating an agreement with crop insurance companies. This budget continues that commitment to deficit reduction – proposing a nearly $2 billion decrease from our request for Fiscal Year 2011. Read more »