Lucas, Peterson React to Ryan's Latest Budget Proposals

March 13, 2013 01:01 AM
 
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Would cut $31 billion from farm program spending, but leave specifics to Ag panel

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


House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Tuesday renewed his call to convert the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise known as food stamps, to a block grant to the states. He also urged the House Agriculture Committee to revisit a proposal to end annual direct payments and to restructure crop insurance subsidies.

Ryan’s proposal suggested the Ag panel should be able to generate $31 billion in savings from 2014 through 2023. Ryan said he deferred to the committee in determining the best way to make the changes.

House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) was noncommittal in his response. He cited the five-year farm bill the committee approved last year that included $26.6 billion in 10-year net savings (down $8.5 billion from the original savings figure due to updated estimates in February by the Congressional Budget Office.). Almost half of the savings came from reductions to SNAP/food stamps and a portion of the nearly $5 billion a year in direct payments was shifted to new risk management programs for farmers.

“The House Agriculture Committee remains committed to being a part of the solution in addressing our nation’s debt crisis,” Lucas said in a statement. “We will consider the suggestions contained in Chairman Ryan’s budget, as is customary for the Agriculture Committee to consider a variety of viewpoints when crafting comprehensive legislation.”

“If the House Republicans do take the Ryan budget numbers seriously, I don’t see how they can be serious about passing long-term farm policy this year,” said Ag panel ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) in a statement. “If these are the budget priority, priorities for the House majority, agriculture might best be served by again extending the current farm bill.” Peterson concluded that “it’s time to get serious.”


Comments: Veteran farm bill watchers do not foresee another extension of the 2008 Farm Bill, citing comments last week from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that a farm bill would get done this year. The Senate Ag Committee will likely work with a lower farm bill savings figure than the House Ag panel. Sources say an eventual compromise savings number could likely come via debt limit hike talks this summer. If so, it could be after the August congressional recess before a new farm bill is finalized. Sources say that if another farm bill extension is the route, it will not likely be a “simple” extension this time.



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


 

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