Budget Issues Shaping a 2012 Farm Bill [June 1, 2012]   [open pdf - 375KB]

"Budget issues are one of the primary factors affecting the development of a new farm bill, particularly in a Congress that is focused on deficit reduction. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate of S. 3240--the Senate Agriculture Committee's proposal for a 2012 farm bill, introduced on May 24, 2012--shows projected budgetary reductions of $23.6 billion over the 10-year period FY2013-FY2022. This would be a 2.4% reduction from the $993 billion of baseline outlays over the same period for farm bill programs. Funding to write the next farm bill is based on CBO baseline projection of the cost of farm bill programs, and on varying budgetary assumptions about whether programs will continue. The CBO baseline is an estimation (projection) at a particular point in time of what federal spending on mandatory programs likely would be under current law. When new bills are proposed that affect mandatory spending, their impact (or 'score') is measured as a difference from the baseline. This process sets the mandatory budget for considering a new farm bill. The March 2012 CBO baseline for mandatory farm bill programs is $995 billion of budget authority ($993 billion of outlays) for the 10-year period FY2013-FY2022. Most of this budget authority ($772 billion) is for domestic nutrition assistance programs, primarily the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The rest, about $223 billion, is divided among various agriculture-related programs, primarily crop insurance ($90 billion), farm commodity price and income supports ($63 billion), and conservation ($65 billion). These amounts can be used to reauthorize the same programs, be reallocated among these and other programs, or used as offsets for deficit reduction or other programs."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R42484
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