Issue Update: Slight Movement on 2013 Farm Bill

Although the United States Senate and United States House of Representatives chambers have met a self-imposed deadline to pass a budget resolution prior to April 15, 2013 – or have their pay docked – there appears to be little chance of reconciling the divergent blueprints.  The non-binding fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget resolutions that emerged from both chambers are vastly different and it is unclear whether any attempt will be made to iron out the vast differences between the two plans.

 
The differing visions for agriculture spending priorities are stark but not unexpected.  Whereas the Senate version calls for approximately $23 billion in savings from the farm bill as a whole, the House version calls for an estimated $49 billion, with $31 billion coming from the commodity title and crop insurance, as well as additional $18 billion from other titles.  The House budget resolution would also cap federal spending for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and convert it to a block grant to the states, resulting in an estimated savings of $125 billion over 5 years.

 
Despite these numbers, the budget resolutions passed by Congress (as well as the budget that will be released by the Obama Administration this month) are merely the first steps in a complex dance.  As has historically been the case, Congress and the Administration utilize budget proposals to highlight their policy priorities and to establish guidelines.  It is unlikely that the potential impasse in reconciling the budget resolutions will have much of a material impact on the upcoming farm bill.

 
According to Agri-Pulse, there is general consensus that the Senate and House Agriculture Committees are not likely to wait for a budget agreement.  Case-in-point: Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D – MI) has announced that her committee will hold a markup on a new farm bill prior to April 26th, with the House expected to follow suit shortly thereafter.

 

Copyright © 2013 RDL & Associates, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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