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Budget Environment Challenges Farm Bill Writers

A suddenly changed political environment for budgeting on Capitol Hill is posing new challenges for farm bill writers, who are already facing a daunting October 1st deadline to complete work on a new bill.

It’s a ‘tale of two GOPs’—a Senate GOP ready to stick with FY 2023 spending figures next fiscal year based on the House Speaker’s debt deal with the president, and rebellious House conservatives demanding deeper cuts.

American Farm Bureau’s director of government affairs Dustin Sherer says the fight over near-term spending cuts won’t have an immediate farm bill impact. Sherer says; “The appropriations level doesn’t have anything to do with negotiating out the farm bill authorization levels, other than again, it’s just creating a little bit of rancor between parties and the chambers.”

Most of the farm bill is automatic mandatory spending, like SNAP…but even there, appropriators have already pushed savings via expanded work requirements. As Sherer put it; “They’re the ones who control the money.”

Longer-term, the McCarthy-Biden debt limit-budget deal leaves no new farm bill money, nor does it change political realities. Sherer; “It’s a split Congress a year before a presidential election in a fiscal environment. But no farm bill has been the same as a different farm bill. They’ve all moved in different circumstances, under different fiscal pressures, in different economies.”

But with spending differences this year not just between the two parties but within a GOP that controls one chamber, and with little time left to produce a farm bill that in the past has taken months or more to enact.

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