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WASHINGTON Update

★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★

Tom Cosgrove Senior Vice President for Public Affairs

The 2018 Farm Bill ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★

Less of the Same? Leaders of the Congressional agriculture

House Agriculture Committee

Despite the Committee Chairs’ efforts,

committees began 2017 with the best of

Chairman Mike Conaway (TX) held

there has been no actual legislative action

intentions to get a jump start on the 2018

the fi rst full committee hearing on the

on the Farm Bill, although that may have

Farm Bill in hopes of finalizing it well

Farm Bill last February. Since then, the

changed by the time this issue reaches

before its expiration in September 2018.

committee has convened numerous

your mailbox.

The Farm Bill authorizes a variety

hearings on all aspects of agricultural

I believe the reason for the delay in

of USDA programs such as agricultural

policy and held listening sessions across

Farm Bill progress is tied closely to what

support, conservation and nutrition

the U.S., including one in Cobleskill, NY

will be one of the central issues of the

programs, and will consider changes

on October 9.

debate — uncertainty about how much

to other important programs like crop

The Senate Agriculture Committee

Congress will be able to spend on the

insurance. It is usually completed on a

held field hearings this spring in the home

2018 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is not a

five-year cycle, but leaders had hoped to

states of Chairman Pat Roberts (KS) and

spending bill, per se, in that it is not one

complete it in 2017 or early 2018 so that

Ranking member Debbie Stabenow (MI)

of the 12 annual appropriations bills that

it didn’t get caught in the cross-fi re of the

and has held hearings covering most of the

fund the federal government each year.

2018 mid-term elections.

Farm Bill titles since then.

The Farm Bill, however, authorizes many USDA programs with mandatory spending, which means that like entitlement

Crop Insurance 8%

PROJECTED O U T L AY S UNDER THE 2014 FA R M BI LL

Commodities 5% Other 1%

Conservation 6%

programs, many Farm Bill programs are not subject to annual appropriations. The 2014 Farm Bill came with a projected price tag of $489 billion over the five fiscal years from 2014 to 2018. After nearly four years, the Farm Bill has actually cost less than anticipated. Early in 2017, the Congressional Budget Office estimated

2014 -2018

the total cost to be on pace for about $460

T O TA L O U T L AY S

billion for the five-year period. The lower

$489 BILLION

costs have come from nutrition programs,

Nutrition 80%

as the improved economy has meant fewer people qualifying for assistance, and crop insurance, as lower commodity prices

Source: USDA Economic Research Service using data from Congressional Budget Office, Cost Estimates for the Agricultural Act of 2014, Jan 2014.

have led to lower premiums and thus, smaller premium subsidies.

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