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Political Sparring Over CBO Farm Bill Scoring

Doubts over the accuracy of farm bill cost estimates are making the job of passing a five-year bill even more challenging as a September deadline approaches.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is relying on the Congressional Budget Office estimate of the House GOP’s farm bill deficit. Vilsack says, “That CBO says is at least a 30-billion-dollar deficit. That’s a very large number, and they’ve got to get reasonable and practical about this if they’re truly interested in getting a farm bill done.”

But House GOP Ag Chair Glenn Thompson argues CBO got it wrong last year when it claimed the debt ceiling deal added over $2 billion in SNAP costs. Thompson says, “Absolutely, they got it wrong, and it was a factor of double-counting.”

South Dakota Republican Dusty Johnson added his voice saying “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.”

House Ag Republicans are now looking to new SNAP and CCC savings to offset higher crop supports or reference prices. But Senate Ag Republican Chuck Grassley warns that politicians should steer clear of trying to influence CBO scoring of bills. Grassley says, “That goes very much against the spirit of the 1974 Budget Act and the purpose of CBO because we should have honest predicting out of CBO and not political influence on that predicting.”

But House Ag Chair Thompson says the CBO was wrong last year in its farm bill baseline for cotton by one billion dollars, apologized to him, and promised a correction.

Story by Matt Kaye, Berns Bureau; courtesy of NAFB News Service

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