Recently, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released their annual budget projections for direct spending costs of farm legislation over the next 10 years. These, and perhaps subsequent projections, will be used by lawmakers to write the upcoming 2012 Farm Bill.
Congress is set to begin writing the next re-authorization of the Farm Bill as most programs under the current (2008) Farm Bill are set to expire September 30, 2012. In fact the U.S. Senate Agricultural Committee has announced its first farm bill hearing on April 9 at Michigan State University in Lansing, Michigan.
Congressional fact-finding hearings will continue occurring over the next several months as lawmakers on the House and Senate Agriculture Committees seek to audit current programs that are working, as well as those that are not.
CBO’s projections show a continuing decrease in farm programs budget. In actuality this is good news as the market is rewarding America’s farmers and ranchers and showcases the counter-cyclical nature of farm programs (during times of high commodity prices there is less reliance on government programs) is working.
During the last (2008) Farm Bill, the CBO projected in their March 2007 budget $83.7 billion for commodity price support programs over the period 2008-2017 .
The recent budget baseline released by the CBO projects commodity price support program spending of $70.2 billion over the period 2012-2021, a reduction of $13.5 billion. In fiscal year 2006, actual commodity price supports totaled $18.2 billion. In FY fiscal year 2010, the total was $7.1 billion, a reduction of $11.1 billion since 2006.
Agriculture Has Given Already
CBO’s estimated savings may be held as favorable in the eyes of some of the new members of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, since earlier this month the Committee adopted a letter containing their bi-partisan views and estimates on the budget and outlined the committee’s recommendations for agencies and programs under their jurisdiction for fiscal year 2012.
In their bi-partisan joint statement released after adopting the letter, U.S. House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN), noted, “The Agriculture Committee is prepared to make our fair contribution toward deficit reduction. We have already reduced commodity program spending over the course of several farm bills and crop insurance through the SRA process that was done in May. I don’t believe, however, that our Committee should bear a disproportionate share of the cuts. Everything should be on the table.”
This re-authorization of farm legislation will likely prove to be the most challenging in the 70+ year history of farm programs due to a shrinking budget baseline to fund programs; the highest commodity market prices in history giving rise to question the actual need for farm programs; and newcomers elected to Congress determined to significantly reduce federal outlays.
The newly elected Congress includes a total 94 freshmen in the House of Representatives; 16 freshman House Republicans and 7 freshman Democrats serve on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee. A majority of these newcomers were swept into office by a swelling tide of the grassroots electorate eager to reduce U.S. debt and search for wiser uses of taxpayer dollars.
Farm program reductions already obtained may not totally vindicate farm programs in this current congressional environment. Thus, it is yet to be determined if the budget-cutting zeal exhibited by congressional newcomers will be offset by more seasoned veterans in Congress who understand the art of compromise. After being in office less than three months, congressional members of the Tea Party caucus held a sparsely attended demonstration in Washington on March 31, to protest Republican leaders who are not pressing hard enough to make good on promises to significantly cut spending.
Cansler Consulting & The Farm Bill
As an agricultural lobbying firm, Cansler Consulting is well versed in the intricacies of the 2012 Farm Bill and all the factors and agendas involved. If your organization needs its interests protected during this time of decision, please contact us today.
at (202) 714-2822 for a consultation today to see how we can help your organization build support where it needs it most.