The GOP-White House debt limit deal (that passed in the House Wednesday night before going to the Senate) could mean little new money for the farm bill, forcing a reshuffling of funds to meet pressing farmer needs.
A three percent increase in defense spending, a boost in veterans’ benefits, and an effective spending freeze for fiscal 2024 could dash hopes of many farm commodity groups to up supports. Longtime Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley (R); “It looks to me like it’s going to be difficult to up funding in a lot of areas. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be some up funding in some areas, but it’s going to be at the expense of other areas in the farm bill.”
Grassley adds that any new farm bill spending would have to be offset by savings in other government agencies; “There could be, just hypothetically, let’s say, money going to the Agriculture Department coming from EPA or from Interior.”
The GOP is also looking to the increased SNAP work requirements for savings, and House Ag Chair Glenn GT Thompson denounced a Congressional Budget Office estimate that the debt deal would add 78 thousand to SNAP rolls by exempting some. Thompson; “Veterans, homeless, and those aging out of foster youth, they’re largely already counted. They’re eligible. They’re already baked into the baseline for the farm bill.”
But even if CBO is wrong that SNAP spending will increase by more than $2 billion over ten years, Grassley says they and appropriators will have the last word, not the Ag committees. Grassley; “Now, we could be higher in authorization, but the appropriators can’t go above this agreement that’s been reached between McCarthy and the president.”
With the reality that farm bill spending could still be squeezed, making it harder to meet producers’ safety net demands.