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Updated CBO score could affect new farm bill

The Congressional Budget Office has updated its financial estimates for the farm bill over the next decade and University of Missouri’s Pat Westhoff says the changes could affect the new legislation.

“If we were to see the farm bill debate lapse into 2025, it could become relevant.”

Westhoff, the director of MU’s Food and Ag Policy Research Institute, says if lawmakers can’t pass a new farm bill this year, the farm bill will be scored based on this budget.

He says in this budget, the CBO has changed the way it looks at the discretionary authority for the ag secretary under the Commodity Credit Corporation’s Charter Act.

“They tried to think more carefully about when the funds were available for those uses. It caused a very different path for the future outlays there.”

Westhoff says House Ag Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson was hoping for cost savings from the CCC to help pay for updates in the new farm bill, but it doesn’t.

The updates proposed by the House Ag Committee in the new farm bill total more than $50 billion, according to Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The CBO’s updated budget has authority spending under the CCC at $12 billion over the next decade.

“That’s a lot less the House was counting on for future savings.”

Westhoff says some lawmakers have expressed interest in talking with the budget committee about the CCC.

“If the budget committee could require CBO to go a certain path. That’s still a possibility, but of course, it would have to be agreed upon by a variety of people for that to happen.”

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow says the latest CBO budget projections confirm the House Republican’s farm bill uses magic math and her door is open to negotiate.

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