Below is a statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the proposed FY2011 budget:
"I don't need to tell the American people that in 2009, America struggled through the most serious economic recession since the Great Depression. Families were forced to make difficult decisions. And more and more Americans had to rely on USDA to help put food on the table.
"The challenges facing rural communities for decades have grown more acute, which is why the Obama Administration is committed to new approaches to strengthen rural America. Rural Americans earn less than their urban counterparts, and are more likely to live in poverty. More rural Americans are over the age of 65, they have completed fewer years of school, and more than half of America's rural counties are losing population.
"This year, President Obama took steps to bring us back from the brink of a depression and grow the economy again. But with the unsustainable debt accumulated over the past decade, it's time to get our fiscal house in order.
"Our proposed FY 2011 budget is a reflection of that reality, essentially freezing funding for discretionary programs at the FY 2010 level. However, limits we placed on select programs and efforts to eliminate earmarks and one-time funding actually result in a bottom line reduction to our discretionary budget authority of over $1 billion.
"This budget uses taxpayer dollars wisely, taking common-sense steps that many families and small businesses have been forced to take with their own budgets. We are investing in American agriculture and the American people without leaving them a mountain of debt.
"We care deeply about farmers and ranchers and have worked hard to maintain the agricultural safety net, while instituting some targeted reductions in farm program payments."