There are some pundits already saying that nutrition programs will not be considered during reconciliation. Don’t count on it. The new reform-minded Republicans elected in the House will most likely reinforce the call for a vote to change the eligibility standards in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (food stamps) program. Recall during the 2008 Farm Bill debate Congressman Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) offered a proposal that would not allow the indexing of benefits to inflation. Neugebauer will likely receive reinforcements on the House Agriculture Committee to be successful this time around. In addition, it helps Neugebauer’s position that the Congressional Research Service is estimating spending for SNAP “over the five-year period is significantly higher than originally projected in 2008 ($188.9 billion estimated in 2008, compared to the more current estimate of $314.9 billion), reflecting additional spending because of provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), higher food costs, and increasing program participation rates due to the recession.”
During annual appropriations deliberations, look for House republicans to slow down action on issues such as 1. Controlling carbon emissions from utilities and refiners; and 2. EPA’s recently proposed requirements for permits for point-source discharge of pesticides. The issue of controlling carbon emissions is certain to create difficult votes in the Senate, especially among farm-state democrats up for re-election in 2012.
The economic, budgetary, social and political complexities of farm policy will continue delivering the opportunity for lawmakers to make tough choices in the coming months. Fortunately, the American public just elected Members of Congress that ran their campaigns on the premise of being capable of making hard choices in Washington. Farm policy will indeed provide them with multiple opportunities.
Tim Cansler is the Founder and Chief Strategist for Cansler Consulting, a lobbying a firm in Washington D.C. To subscribe to this blog via a news reader or email, please click here or for more information on the Farm Bill and other government items that may impact your organization, please take a look at http://www.CanslerConsulting.com.