CBO Calculates Farm Bill Savings

With the Senate prepared to debate the farm bill later this week, the Congressional Budget Office is calculating the total savings contained in the final version of the bill.

The debate over the farm bill has its origins in the debate over the debt ceiling. Last summer, partisan bickering over the federal budget deficit and the debt ceiling nearly led to the U.S. government’s defaulting on its national debt. In an eleventh hour agreement, Congress and President Obama agreed to raise the debt ceiling in return for reducing the budget by nearly $2 trillion.

The resulting supercommittee, who job it was to cut billions of dollars from the budget, attempted to reach a bipartisan agreement on deficit reduction. Part of their negotiations included a $25 billion cut in agricultural spending. While the final deficit agreement was never reached, the Senate Agriculture Committee used the negotiations as the starting point for the 2012 Farm Bill.

Now that the bill is out of committee, the Congressional Budget Office has examined the bill to determine how much money it actually saves. According to the CBO, the farm bill reduces agricultural spending by about $23.6 billion, slightly short of the Senate’s initial goal. The savings are largely the result of moving away from subsidy programs to embrace more insurance programs.

Both the House and President Obama, however, had hoped for deeper cuts. Whether their disappointment translates into deeper cuts in the House bill or an ultimate delay in the passage of the final farm bill is yet to be seen.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer