Aberrant weather this spring has been widespread and varied and is affecting agriculture.
The nation's southeast and northwest regions are suffering form lack of precipitation. The heartland is enduring floods from the run-off from record winter snowfalls. Additional rainfall and cool temperatures are delaying fieldwork.
Adding to some of the seasonal angst is a murky profit picture. Feed grains and oilseed producers have become increasingly reliant on the government for income. But a new administration seems determined to curb federal spending, and provide tax breaks. While some of those breaks do target farmers and other Rural Americans, the spending plan will alter how things are done in the country.
President George W. Bush submitted his first budget to Congress this week... laying out some of the specifics of how he plans to pay for an overall tax cut of more than 1.6 trillion dollars over the next 10 years.
In the short term it appears the budget axe likely will cut into several environmental initiatives.
Federal funding would either be curtailed or eliminated for several programs which offer farmers incentives for protecting water supplies, creating wildlife habitat and permanently protecting farmland from urban sprawl.
The administration proposed the elimination of the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, the Wetlands Reserve Program and the Farmland Protection Program.
All told, federal environmental programs would be cut by 2.3 billion dollars in fiscal year 2002.
(slug: health care)
The budget included a long list of specialized tax breaks that would cost more than 137-billion dollars over the next decade.
The largest single item would provide a tax credit to those who purchase private health care insurance if they're not covered by an employer or public health program.
When fully phased in, the maximum annual credit would be 2,000-dollars for married couples with incomes up to 60,000-dollars.
The Bush plan calls for the Agriculture Department to cut its discretionary spending by more than 7-percent to 17.9 billion dollars.
The plan is likely to draw criticism for failing to address emergency spending for agriculture.
Over the past three years, congress has compensated farmers 25-billion dollars for weather-related losses or declining commodity prices.
State governments will likely try to pick up some of the programs that the federal government wants to downsize. For example Iowa wants to curb run-off into streams by paying farmers to plant buffer strips. And this week Nebraska lawmakers voted to advance legislation that would require all gasoline stations in the state to offer ethanol-blended fuel.
More than a third of the Nebraska's gasoline retailers do not sell the alternative fuel, even though the state makes about 20 percent of the nation's ethanol.