Congressional Budget Office releases cost of House farm bill | TheFencePost.com

Congressional Budget Office releases cost of House farm bill

The Congressional Budget Office released the estimated costs of HR 2, the farm bill draft released by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, on Thursday.

Relative to spending projected under CBO's April 2018 baseline, CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 2 would increase direct spending by $3.2 billion over the 2019-2023 period, and that direct spending would decrease by $2.7 billion over the 2024-2028 period, for a net increase in direct spending of $0.5 billion over the 2019-2028 period.

CBO also estimates that enacting the bill would increase revenues by $0.5 billion over the 2019-2028 period.

Consistent with the rules governing baseline projections that are specified in the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, CBO's baseline also assumes that programs will continue to operate after their authorizations expire in the same manner as they did before. Thus, the costs of extending those authorizations through 2023 are not included in the costs attributable to this bill. CBO estimates that those costs would total $387 billion over the 2019-2023 period.

CBO has not estimated the additional discretionary spending that would result from implementing HR 2; such spending would be subject to future appropriation actions.

NSAC comments on farm bill score

The Congressional Budget Office score of the House Agriculture Committee’s draft farm bill shows that Agriculture Department conservation programs would be cut more than earlier realized, that certain crop insurance programs would be eliminated, and that cotton growers are likely to benefit more than other commodity producers, Ferd Hoefner of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition wrote in an email to The Hagstrom Report over the weekend.

Speaking of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Hoefner said, “As we said previously, the mark cuts funds for working lands conservation (CSP + EQIP) by $7 billion over 10 years, exclusive of the final payments to be made on old CSP contracts.”

“With the CBO score in hand, we now know that even including those final payments, the bill cuts working lands conservation by $5 billion over 10 years. As if that were not outrageous enough, the bill reduces funding for the conservation title as a whole by nearly $1 billion ($795 million) and moves that funding to other titles of the bill.”

In addition, Hoefner wrote, the CBO score “also brought to light something we had missed earlier. In the crop insurance title, the bill would completely eliminate the Risk Management Education Partnership Program, the Crop Insurance Education for Targeted States Program, and the Agricultural Management Assistance Program.”

“The first of those programs is nationwide, and the latter two are targeted at the Northeast states plus a small assortment of western states, those states being the ones with the lowest participation rates in federal crop insurance. CBO scores that as a $125 million savings in outlays. It is $15 million per year in budget authority.

“All of this funding is currently permanent funding which does not need to be renewed from farm bill to farm bill. It was a key ingredient in passage of the Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 2000, and [the change] is clearly meant as a direct attack on the New England and Middle Atlantic states, which benefit the most from those programs,” Hoefner said.

“Funny how this farm bill according to committee leadership was going to leave the crop insurance title alone — guess that adage applies to some states and not others.”

Hoefner also pointed out that in the commodity title, spending on cotton goes up by $438 million (in addition to the $3.1 billion added to cotton by the already enacted budget deal) and soybeans by $71 million, but wheat and feed grains would go down by over $300 million.

Hoefner said those spending patterns are “Interesting in light of the rationale that we need to do this farm bill because commodity prices continue to sag and we need to protect commodity farmers.”

“Apparently the solution to sagging prices and income is to send more payments to only very particular commodities and to completely emasculate the last remaining vestiges of payment limitations for good measure.”

Farm Bureau analyzes CBO farm bill baseline

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s Market Intel service has released its analysis of the Congressional Budget Office’s views on farm bill spending under its Budget and Economic Outlook 2018-2018 that was released on April 9.

This separate CBO publication and analysis, a report usually published in January, should not be confused with the score released Friday for the farm bill that House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, made public on Thursday.

But the Farm Bureau analysis of the spending under the current farm bill provides insight to what that budget picture for farm spending would be like if Congress were to extend the 2014 farm bill rather than pass a new one.