(Podcast) Episode 020: What the Trump Budget Revealed About Possible Changes in the 2018 Farm Bill

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The AgEconMT crew is joined by Dr. Vincent Smith, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics at Montana State University, co-director of the Center Initiative for Regulation and Applied Economic Analysis, the director and visiting scholar of agricultural policy at the American Enterprise Institute. Vince’s research has focused on assessing agricultural policy and he is one of the leading scholars of U.S. agricultural programs. Anton and Eric chat with Vince about what President Trump’s 2017 budget proposal, released on May 23, may signal about the White House’s views on U.S. agricultural and food policy and how these views may shape the upcoming debates of the 2018 Farm Bill.

Here is a brief outline and specific clips. Or listen to the whole episode above.

2:37: A brief review of the changes to farm programs in the proposed White House budget.

5:00: Changes to the revenue insurance harvest price option were proposed. What does this mean and what are the underlying issues of eliminating this facet?

6:55: What is a crop insurance premium subsidy? And what dose the proposed $40,000 cap on the subsidy mean? How many farmers and who would be affected?

8:30: What other impacts does a crop insurance subsidy cap have? What are the trade-offs between tax savings and impacts on agricultural producers?

10:55: What is some of the history of the harvest price option and crop insurance subsidy cap proposals? How have these proposals evolved and found themselves into the Trump budget proposal?

12:20: So will the removal of the harvest price option and crop insurance subsidy cap changes become policy?

16:50: Switching gears, what are some other policy proposals in the Trump budget? Particularly changes to the ARC / PLC support programs. How do these programs work and how would they be affected?

22:40: What do data suggest about the trade-offs of instituting the proposed changes to the ARC/PLC program payment structure? How much could potentially be saved and how many farmers would be affected?

25:10: How likely are we to see changes to the ARC/PLC program structure? How are groups who represent different sectors of the agricultural landscape approaching their lobbying efforts?

29:15: Switching gears once more to the SNAP program. What are the proposed changes and how would have those changes potentially affected the northern Great Plains region?

33:55:  Will the SNAP program be split from commodity programs in the 2018 Farm Bill? Is Congress willing to cut SNAP funds to protect commodity programs?

37:30: 2018 is right around the corner. Is the 2018 Farm Bill on track to get passed on time?

39:35: Will the Trump budget drive the Senate and House Agricultural Committees’ policy decisions?

(Intro and outro music by Trevor Sensor)

(Photo by Tom Lohdan is licensed under CC BY 4.0)

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About Author

Dr. Anton Bekkerman is an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics at Montana State University, joining the faculty in 2009 after completing his PhD at North Carolina State University. Bekkerman's primary areas of research are grain marketing, basis and price forecast modeling, understanding how grain prices are affected by changes in supply chain infrastructures and quality demands, and analyzing the economic trade-offs of adopting alternative dryland cropping systems in Montana. One of his current projects is an investigation of how new grain loading technologies are affecting prices that Montana farmers receive for their wheat. Bekkerman is also examining the economic impacts that Montana's rapidly expanding dry pulse industry will have on the state's crop industry. Although Bekkerman grew up on the east coast, he has recently made a small step toward production agricultural after acquiring three backyard chickens.

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