"The budget situation for the farm bill is more difficult this year than for recent farm bills because of attention to the federal debt. The desire by many to redesign farm policy and reallocate the remaining farm bill baseline--in a sequestration and deficit reduction environment--is driving much of the farm bill debate. Uncertainty persists about broader deficit reduction plans, some of which have targeted agricultural and nutrition programs with mandatory funding. Much of that uncertainty affects the farm bill but is beyond the control of the agriculture committees. Moreover, some popular 2008 farm bill programs do not have a baseline that would provide continued funding and thus will require budgetary offsets to continue. The political dynamics of sequestration and deficit reduction pose difficult questions about how much and when the farm bill baseline may be reduced. In an era of deficit reduction, Congress faces difficult choices about how much total support to provide for agriculture and nutrition, and how to allocate it among competing constituencies. Funding to write the next farm bill is based on Congressional Budget Office (CBO) baseline projections of the cost of farm bill programs, and on varying budgetary assumptions about whether programs will continue. The CBO baseline is an estimate (projection) at a particular point in time of what federal spending on mandatory programs likely would be under current law."
CRS Report for Congress, R42484