Monday, July 30, 2012

Farm Bill extension would get most cuts from conservation programs, drawing much opposition

UPDATE, July 31: David Rogers of Politico reports "signs that House Republicans may pull back from a one-year extension of farm programs and focus instead on the immediate needs of drought-stricken livestock producers," partly because of Democratic and commodity-group opposition. Rogers calls the extension "highly divisive." (That's true of the Farm Bill itself, which is why GOP leaders are not taking it to the full House.) As for the extension measure, Rogers reports, "Fiscal conservatives and taxpayer groups are upset that the bill walks away from earlier promises to end costly direct cash payments to farmers. Environmentalists are agitated by the fact that the greatest share of the cuts to pay for the disaster aid would come from conservation programs."

Bob Meyer reports for Brownfield, "There are growing indications there are not enough votes in the House and Republican leadership may pull the bill before it is scheduled to come to the floor Wednesday." Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, wants the extension only as a path to a conference on a five-year bill, but tea-party Republicans oppose that strategy. (Read more)

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says one-year Farm Bill extension that House Republican leaders will try to pass this week, probably Wednesday, would reduce direct spending next year by $400 million, mainly by cutting conservation programs, "while disaster assistance programs to help livestock producers with the drought would receive increases in the short term," Amanda Peterka reports for Environment & Energy News, a subscription-only service.

Extending the cuts for 10 years, as is done in most federal budget estimates these days, would take $759 million from conservation programs. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program would be cut $350 million, with most of the cuts front-loaded to the near-term; the Conservation Stewardship Program would be reduced by $289 million, $31 million in most years.

Direct subsidy payments to farmers, which would be eliminated under farm bills approved by the House Agriculture Committee and the Senate, would be cut "$29 million a year starting in fiscal 2014, for a total reduction of $261 million over the next decade," Peterka reports. "Disaster assistance would increase by $365 million in fiscal 2013, $235 million in fiscal 2014 and $21 billion in 2015 to help farmers and ranchers devastated by the drought." For the CBO report, click here.

1 comment:

Camilla said...

I don't have any disagreement to the cost cuts of some labeled budgets as long as the reduction will be handed to all the farmers and ranchers who are devastated by the drought. I'm looking forward to the formality of the Bill.