As it stands the Senate version of the 2012 Farm Bill - called the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 - would bring total direct spending for those USDA programs to $969 billion over the 2013 to 2022 period. That's a $23.6 billion savings according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office.
The office, which rates spending measures and estimates impacts of legislation, released a report Friday that shows the farm bill savings. CBO says that savings is what the organization projects would be spent versus spending if those programs were continued under current law.
CBO also says the bill would authorize appropriations over the 2013-2017 period for existing and new USDA programs involving research and education, nutrition, trade promotion, rural development, credit assistance, forestry and conservation initiatives. CBO estimates that implementing those provisions would cost about $28 billion over the next five years.
And the bill contains no intergovernmental mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. However the bill would impose private-sector mandates on entities in the dairy industry. Because the cost of some of the mandates would depend on future regulations, CBO says it couldn't determine whether the aggregate cost of the mandates would exceed the annual threshold established by UMRA for private sector mandates - which is $146 million in 2012.
The Senate version of the farm bill, which was released for floor debate last week, is a bipartisan measure that passed out of committee by a 16-5 vote. Leaders of the opposition include Southern Senators concerned that safety net provisions don't do enough for producers of higher value crops including peanuts.
Floor debate on the measure could begin as early as next week, according to some observers. And there are significant differences between the Senate bill and proposals being floated on the House side for a farm bill. However, the House version of the bill has yet to be released.