USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says House Republicans have written a largely political farm bill and it’s time for them to get practical. He questions their math skills, saying it must be some kind of magic.

“There are many issues here with raising expectations too high and not having real money. I like to say they’ve used Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak to essentially cloak over what I think CBO says is at least a $30 billion deficit.”

House Ag Chair Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson claims his funding proposals do not cut any individual or family SNAP benefits over the course of the five-year farm bill, but Vilsack charges those cuts to offset higher crop supports or reference prices step on Democrats’ “red lines”.

“I think what we saw from the House Agriculture Committee is more of a political point of view, essentially establishing and providing just about everybody everything they’re asking for. The problem of course is that there are not enough resources to be able to pay for all of that. So, as the Congressional Budget Office has determined, there are multiple billions of dollars of deficit in the House bill, which causes, I think, concern about whether it can pass the House, and certainly, have problems in the Senate.”

Vilsack’s hope is that we wouldn’t have to do another extension of the current 2018 farm bill, “but obviously, if September 30th comes and goes and we haven’t got a farm bill passed, at that point it would be appropriate for the Congress to pass an extension to give them sufficient time, hopefully before the end of the year, to get this farm bill passed.”

Increasingly, the farm bill stalemate has prompted some lawmakers in both parties to say it might be better to wait until after the elections to write a five-year farm bill.

Source: NAFB News Service