Initial Review of the House 2018 Farm Bill
On Thursday, April 18, 2018, the House Agriculture Committee reported its version of the farm bill titled the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (House Ag Committee Press Release, April 18, 2018). The vote to report the bill to the full House was 26 to 20 and notable because the vote was partisan; no Democrats voted for it, no Republicans voted against it (Brasher, Agri-Pulse, April 18, 2018). The partisan nature of the committee’s initial steps in reauthorizing the farm bill may signal further difficulties for passing a bill in Congress this year. Significant focus has concentrated on three key changes in the bill; revisions to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), elimination of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and alterations to farm programs, including payment limitations and eligibility requirements. The following is a brief review of the 2018 House farm bill.
Cost Estimates of the Bill
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released their assessment of the changes in spending that would result from the program revisions in the House Ag Committee bill (CBO, Cost Estimate, H.R. 2, Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, April 13, 2018). These CBO cost estimates, known generally as the score, are estimated for the ten-year budget window (Fiscal Years (FY) 2019 to 2028) as compared to the April 2018 Baseline estimates (farmdoc daily, April 12, 2018). Overall, CBO estimates that the House farm bill will increase spending by $458 million compared to the Baseline.
Figure 1 illustrates the year-by-year changes in spending for the four major titles in the CBO score. In total, spending on Title I farm programs is expected to increase by $194 million, while spending on crop insurance (Title X) is expected to decrease by $160 million. Spending for Title II conservation programs is expected to decrease by $796 million and CBO estimates that Title IV nutrition spending will increase by $458 million. Looking closer, CBO estimates that total spending will increase by $3.2 billion during the five years the bill would be in operation (FY 2019-2023). Of that increase, $1.8 billion is for nutrition and SNAP, $149 million for commodities and $656 million for conservation. CBO estimates a $70 million decrease for crop insurance. Therefore, most of the scored savings in the bill are expected in the out-years of the 10-year estimate (FY 2024 to 2028) or after the 2018 farm bill would be expected to expire and be replaced by a new bill.
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