House Considers Drastic Cuts to Economic Research Service and National Agricultural Statistical Service

By Steve Pierson posted 06-16-2011 08:01

The House or Representatives today considered--and fortunately defeated--major cuts to the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) in the Department of Agriculture. Cuts to the FY12 budgets for both agencies already included in the bill unfortunately remained intact. Today's votes occurred during the consideration of the FY12 agricultural appropriations bill.

An amendment offered by Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) would have reduced funding for ERS by $43 million (from the bill level of $70 million) and for NASS by $85 million (from $149.5 million). It was defeated 83-338.

Another amendment by Congressman Paul Broun (R-GA) would have reduced funding for ERS by $7 million. It was defeated 125-298.

While the defeat's of these amendments are good news, the overall news for EIA and NASS so far for FY12 is not good because of the already substantial cuts to the budgets in the House bill for these two agencies. The $70 million for ERS in the bill is a cut from $82 million in FY11. The bill also cuts the NASS budgets to $149.5 million from the FY11 level of $156 million. The FY11 level was also down from FY10 level of $162 million as a results of cuts made in April. See the blog entry, FY12 Statistical Agency Budget Developments, for the tracking of statistical agency budgets.

ASA joined nine other organization in opposing these cuts to the NASS and ERS budgets. The statement says,
These agencies provide critical information about the state of agriculture in the United States and therefore help this vital part of our economy. Farmers, producers, businesses, and others rely on ERS and NASS data to make decisions to be productive and competitive. Cuts to the ERS and NASS budgets put the agricultural community at a disadvantage in this global market.
The other nine organizations signing  the statement were American Sociological Association, Association of Academic Survey Research Organizations (AASRO), Association of Public Data Users (APDU), Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA), Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER), Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS), Council on Food, Agricultural, and Resource Economics (C-FARE), National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and Southern Agricultural Economics Association.

In offering his amendment, which also would have cut the Agricultural Research Service budget, Congressman Chaffetz stated, "The idea and the goal of the situation here is that perhaps they could take a reduction in funding, not totally zero them out, and really look at these duplicative programs as being something that can be ultimately unified over the course of time."

In support of his amendment, Congressman Broun stated, "the USDA has four separate services that conduct research, as Mr. Chaffetz has already spoken about here on the floor. All four of these entities have numerous overlapping issues, and it would be more fiscally responsible to simply consolidate them, and I wish we had done so. The American people have demanded that we cut the outrageous spending that's going on here in Washington, and we must cut the spending in every corner of the budget possible. They deserve our very best efforts in being good stewards of their tax dollars."
1 comment


10-12-2011 15:39

A letter in support of the ERS and NASS FY12 budgets was emailed today to all House and Senate offices. PDF versions of one House letter and one Senate letter are posted at: and