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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Expiring Farm Bill Programs Without a Budget Baseline

Jim Monke
Specialist in Agricultural Policy

The farm bill (the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, P.L. 110-246) provides mandatory funding for many farm bill programs, including the farm commodity programs and some nutrition, conservation, research, bioenergy, horticulture, and rural development programs. Some farm bill programs have baseline beyond the end of the 2008 farm bill, while others do not. Those with continuing baseline essentially have built-in future funding if policymakers decide the programs should continue in their current form.

However, 37 programs that received mandatory funds during the 2008 farm bill are not assumed to continue from a budgetary perspective because they do not have a budgetary baseline beyond FY2012. Notable programs among this group include certain agricultural disaster assistance programs, conservation programs, specialty crop research, organic research and certification, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmer programs, rural development, bioenergy, and farmers market promotion programs. If policymakers want to continue these programs in the next farm bill or extension, they will need to pay for the programs with offsets.

Depending on the approach used to estimate a cost to extend the 37 programs for five years, an estimated $9 billion to $14 billion of offsets from other sources may be needed. This is nearly 3% of the $507 billion five-year CBO baseline for farm bill programs (FY2013-FY2017), or 13% of the $108 billion five-year baseline if the nutrition title is excluded. Finding this level of offsets may be a difficult task in a tight budget environment, especially when many observers believe that some of the farm bill baseline may be lost to deficit reduction.

The one-year extension of the 2008 farm bill in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-240) did not provide any additional mandatory funding for any of the 37 programs without baseline. However, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees envisioned providing funding for many of these programs in the five-year farm bills that were debated in 2012 (H.R. 6083 and S. 3240) but that were not enacted.

Date of Report: January 17, 2013
Number of Pages: 22
Order Number: R41433
Price: $29.95

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