Farm Bill Update: Feb. 7, 2013

February 7, 2013 01:54 AM
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via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Timeline murky | Another extension ahead? | Dairy policy reform snags

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

Talks with key farm bill players and stakeholders over the past few days reveal that:

  • No one knows, for sure, the timeline for a new farm bill.

  • No one knows which legislative vehicle will be used to attach a farm bill to, if anything.

  • There is still a chance for a stand-alone farm bill, but with prior instructions for budget savings.

  • The coming debt limit hike bill this summer could include an assumption of farm bill budget cuts to be determined by the Ag panels.

  • Some farm bill watchers are not ruling out another one-year 2008 Farm Bill extension at the end of this year should other legislative attempts falter.

  • Ag Committee leaders still await word from their political leaders relative to three key numbers: (1) how much budget savings for the farm bill will be needed over ten years; (2) Timeline for the budget savings; (3) how much to cut from the food stamp funding baseline.

  • Any farm bill cuts would likely count towards the Ag panels' contribution to a possible budget reconciliation or reconciliation-like process ahead.

  • There will eventually be 12 new Democratic members on the House Ag Committee. Ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) may have a harder time bringing along those more urban members to agree with the same – if not higher – cuts in food stamp funding ahead. Should the House farm bill be debated and voted on by the full chamber, some sources predict a big push for food stamp funding cuts even larger than what the House Ag Committee approved last year.

  • Those pushing for a controversial dairy policy change that includes supply management language will face both budget problems and stiff and growing resistance in the House outside the Ag Committee. The latest Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections show a 34 percent decline in the dairy spending baseline.

  • CBO projections released earlier this week are being questioned in several areas, including their corn planted acreage assumptions for 2014 forward. For example, CBO projects 8 million fewer corn acres planted in 2014 and the baseline shows a continued lower-than-expected corn planting projection for most of the 10-year baseline.

  • CBO's updated projections show a $700 million boost in ACRE payouts from the prior baseline – likely fitting with their price projections, but estimates still being challenged by some industry analysts.

  • The Senate Ag Committee is expected to hold a hearing soon relative to disaster programs.

  • USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack will testify before the Ag panels regarding the overall outlook for agriculture. This could come before President Obama releases his Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposals in early March. Vilsack would also likely be asked about some farm bill issues.

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.


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