The 2012 House farm bill has been advertised as a $35 billion spending cut. But what is not advertised is that the 2012 bill will end up costing taxpayers 59 percent more than the 2008 farm bill. So how can this be a cut? It isn’t.
The farm bill was projected to cost nearly $1 trillion. So when the House farm bill — which spends slightly less than the Senate-passed bill — was scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to cost $35 billion less than expected, it was cheered as a spending cut. In reality, however, the 2012 House farm bill spends nearly 60% more than our current inefficient farm and food programs. The 2008 farm bill that is currently in law was projected to cost $604 billion, while the 2012 House bill came in at $959 billion. This is not a spending cut.
The Senate passed their $970 billion farm bill in June. Yesterday, the House decided to forgo passing their own farm bill and instead decided on a drought-assistance package only. Given the contentious nature of the farm bill, the House chose to pass the $383 million disaster aid package rather than risk leaving farmers without any aid before the August recess. This move leaves the Senate to decide whether or not they will put their stamp of approval on the drought bill and shelve their own farm bill. The vote will take place on Thursday.
Should the Senate deny the disaster package, there is no guarantee that a farm bill consensus will be reached before the current farm bill expires in early September. If the Senate does approve this measure, immediate relief will be given to farmers and Congress will start again on negotiations concerning the 2012 farm bill. Time is short, however, and finding a consensus on this volatile issue is unlikely. If the House presents another one-year extension of the current farm bill it may be the only option to keep this farm and food programs running. A one-year extension would allow Congress to methodically build a farm bill by next year, rather than passing a bill now that continues inefficient programs and increases spending.
Check out our infographics on the current state of the 2012 Senate farm bill and the 2012 House farm bill (also shown below) and decide for yourself whether or not these bills cut spending.