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CBO Finds Farm Bill Wouldn't Save As Much Predicted

Figures touted by Congressional Ag Committees may no longer be accurate, CBO says

Published on: Mar 5, 2013

The Congressional Budget Office on Friday released new figures that suggest original savings estimates for the 2012 Farm Bill may no longer be accurate.

CBO found that both the Senate Farm Bill, S. 3240, and the House Farm Bill, H.R. 6083, would save less than originally projected – $13.1 billion and $26.6 billion, respectively – over a ten year period. Those figures contrast with original estimates of $23.1 billion and $35.1 billion, respectively.

In the House proposal, the largest difference between July 2012 and February 2013 estimates appeared in nutrition programs. Because of a provision regarding utility allowances in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, CBO says spending would be $4.3 billion more over the next 10 years.

Figures touted by Congressional Ag Committees may no longer be accurate, CBO says
Figures touted by Congressional Ag Committees may no longer be accurate, CBO says

In the Senate, nutrition programs are also present the largest difference in spending for the same reason as the House bill, accounting for $4.4 billion more in Senate bill spending.  

The savings in the Senate bill were offered as part of a democratic plan to avoid the sequester late last month, though the plan was not picked up by the Senate at large. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., was a proponent of the plan and frequently touted the savings in the Senate farm bill this summer during the large push to pass the bill.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack also remains vocal on the issue of passing a new farm bill, explaining last week at the Commodity Classic conference in Kissimmee, Fla., that it remains at the top of the priority list for the USDA this year.

Politico reports that the Senate Ag Committee has remained relatively quiet on the report, though a spokesman indicated that the committee intends to achieve the farm bill savings needed once a new version is passed.

The Senate Farm Bill, though passed last summer, was not conferenced as the House failed to bring their bill to the floor. The lack of action gave way to a coalition dedicated to passing the bill, though little real action materialized.

Click here to view the CBO report.