How Much Does the Senate Farm Bill Save?

How Much Does the Senate Farm Bill Save?

While the Senate says new farm bill would save $23 billion, the Congressional Budget Office tallies up a higher number.

Math is hard, just ask any journalist. But apparently the same is true in the Senate. That proposed, 900-page Senate version of a 2012 Farm Bill that was released last week, and was scheduled to be marked up this week would save $23 billion - about what the original "gang of 12" had proposed late in 2011. However, the Congressional Budget Office sees the numbers differently and after its review the agency sees savings of $26.4 billion over 10 years.

In its review of spending, the CBO sees a $19.45 billion savings in the Commodity Title alone, during that 10-year period. During the life of the 2012 Farm Bill, savings would add up to $8.3 billion.

SAVINGS PILE UP: Just how much will the Senate version of the farm bill save? Good question.

In the Conservation title, the estimated savings for a decade adds up to $6.44 billion, and about $1.8 billion in the first four years.

Nutrition program cuts, already under fire from a number of groups, would add up to nearly $4.3 billion over 10 years, and about $1.56 billion in the first four.

But the spending isn't all about cuts. Over the 10-year period, CBO estimated spending on the Horticulture title would rise $359 million, and the cost of crop insurance would rise $3.2 billion over the same period.

The interesting thing to note is that nutrition programs are a significant portion of the bill, but farm programs make up most of the savings. The biggest cuts, of course, come with the elimination of those direct payments. But add up the program savings and over the 10 years, farm-focused programs (commodity and conservation titles) rack up $25.9 billion in cuts. Add back in those crop insurance figures and the net spending cut for the two big ag programs is about $22.6 billion.

The farm bill mark up hearing was postponed from this week with little comment. Speculation about push-back from Southern producers, along with the discrepancy in reported savings have been listed as potential reasons for the cutbacks. We'll let you know when the mark up hearings are rescheduled.

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