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CBO Figures Complicate Farm Bill Math

Congressional Budget Office figures are complicating the job of writing a new farm bill, based on comments by House Ag Chair Glenn GT Thompson and others on the committee.

Thompson told a GOP leadership press call ahead of enactment of the Biden-Speaker McCarthy debt ceiling deal, the CBO was ‘off the mark’ in predicting the deal will hike food stamp spending—some 80-percent of the farm bill.

Thompson said; “Absolutely, they got it wrong, and it was a factor of double-counting. These individuals, veterans, the homeless and those aging out of foster youth, they’re largely already counted—they’re already eligible.”

And Commodity Markets panel chair, Dusty Johnson (R-SD) said; “Work requirements clearly save money. And I would again point you to the CBO 2022 study, that indicated that work requirements absolutely save substantial federal dollars.”

But CBO now says the debt deal adds over $2 billion and 78,000 recipients to SNAP—a possible limiting factor that could squeeze funds available for commodities.

But there, also, Chair Thompson says CBO was wrong in its farm bill baseline for one commodity—cotton. Thompson; “There was an apology, I received, from the CBO director, that their analysts got it wrong, and obviously, have promised a correction, as we move closer to moving the bill—that’ll be a billion dollars that’ll be added to the baseline, which will be more helpful for us, with doing the farm bill this fall.”

But will CBO correct itself on SNAP, if proven wrong? The answer could help decide funding to fix reference prices and improve crop insurance. And CBO and Congressional appropriators will have the final say on spending—not the Ag Committees.

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