Farm Bill on Rocky Course

The 2013 Farm Bill, which is scheduled for final markup in the House and Senate this month, may be headed for another defeat thanks to recent estimates by the Congressional Budget Office.
Last year’s farm bill fiasco ended with a bipartisan bill killed in committee by House Republicans. While Senate Democrats and Republicans managed to put aside their political differences in order to pass a version of the farm bill, GOP leaders in the House were unwilling to do the same. While the House Agriculture Committee passed a draft of the farm bill last July, Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor refused to allow the bill to reach the House floor.
While the Senate and the House both appear eager to reach a compromise on the 2013 Farm Bill, recent estimates by the CBO may derail these efforts. According to the latest reports, the 2012 Farm Bill, which is the basis of this year’s efforts, may save significantly less money than initially estimated. The Senate bill aimed for about $23 billion in savings, a figure that has been reduced to about $13 billion by the CBO thanks to higher than expected crop prices.
The revelation means that Senators will need to find an additional $10 billion in cuts in order to reach their much trumpeted $23 billion savings goal. This will likely mean increased calls by members of the House and Senate GOP to cut more money from nutritional programs like Food Stamps, a call that Democrats are expected to strongly resist.
With Democrats controlling the Senate and Republicans controlling the House, reaching a bipartisan compromise amidst a climate of intense partisan bickering may be difficult, if not impossible.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer