Actual USDA spending in the fiscal year that ended September 30 came in at $139.7 billion, or $7.7 billion less than the Office of Management and Budget forecast in its mid-session review.
The details came Friday in an announcement by OMB and the Treasury Department that federal budget outlays in fiscal 2012 were $3.538 trillion for FY 2012, $114 billion below the forecast. The federal deficit for the year was $1.089 trillion, $207 billion less than the previous year’s level and $238 billion less than forecast in President Obama’s February budget.
The largest spending shortfall at USDA came in the Food and Nutrition Service, which spent $2.6 billion less than anticipated in the July outlook. The majority of the difference was due to lower-than-expected growth in the child nutrition free meals program. Farm program outlays for the Farm Service Agency were $1.2 billion lower than expected. OMB says marketing loan-making was lower and loan repayments higher than anticipated because of higher crop prices. In addition, FSA disaster assistance for 2010 losses and other disasters were under the estimate.
Outlays for the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation fund were $1.5 billion lower than estimated in July due to lags in insurance claims, OMB says. The cost to USDA for large insurance subsidies from this year’s drought won’t be fully realized until the current fiscal year.
Spending for private lands conservation programs by the National Resources Conservation Service was roughly $250 million lower than estimated, reflecting outlay of funds from contracts over a slightly longer period than previously anticipated, according to OMB and Treasury.
The OMB spending tally is one of several factors that the Congressional Budget Office will take into account when it develops the congressional budget baseline early next year. However, an experienced budget hand doubts that the lower figures alone will have much of an impact on next year’s baseline. CBO economists are expected to convene a review meeting in early December, asking USDA budget specialists and others to provide them with current calculations. Baseline estimates for commodity programs will be based on the most current USDA data on crop production and prices, including export and domestic demand estimates.