The Trillion Dollar “Farm” Bill

In May 2022, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its latest 10-year budget projections for a number of Federal programs, including farm-related programs and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  While CBO typically updates its budget projections up to three times per year, the spring update following the release of the President’s budget is most closely watched as it typically is the baseline against which the cost of legislative proposals is “scored” throughout the year.

During farm bill reauthorization years, CBO typically also releases their baseline projections by farm bill title.  That summary gives policymakers a clear picture of the budget for mandatory spending they have to work with in each title of the farm bill.  That estimate also gives a clear picture of what CBO expects the entire farm bill to spend if existing policies were simply maintained going forward.

While we are still a year out from CBO releasing baseline projections by title, there is still plenty to be gleaned from the May 2022 baseline update.  For example, if we look back to the April 2018 baseline (the scoring baseline for the 2018 Farm Bill), the spending projections for CCC Price Support and Related Activities, Conservation, SNAP, and Crop Insurance accounted for $865.9 billion (Table 1), or 99.85% of the $867.2 billion in projected total baseline outlays for the farm bill.  

 Applying the same methodology to the most recent May 2022 baseline update, those four categories are projected to spend approximately $1.3 trillion over the next 10 years (Table 1).  The significant increase is due to a 66.4% increase in projected spending on SNAP, with SNAP now projected to account for $1.1 trillion, or 84% of the total farm bill baseline.  By contrast, the income support provisions for agricultural producers that make up the largest component of Title 1 – the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs – are projected to spend $43.3 billion over the next 10 years, or just 3.3% of the total farm bill baseline.

Table 1.  Congressional Budget Office (CBO) 10-Year Outlays in Million$

 April 2018May 2022Change($)Change (%)
CCC Price Support & Related 1/64,30571,092+6,787+10.6%
Conservation59,68959,216-473-0.8%
SNAP 2/663,8281,104,384+440,556+66.4%
Crop Insurance78,03779,761+1,724+2.2%
Total865,8591,314,453+448,594+51.8%

1/ CBO included $10 billion in “Other Administrative CCC Spending” in the May 2022 baseline update.
2/ Revised economic assumptions and administrative changes to the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) resulted in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) projecting an additional $254 billion in SNAP outlays from FY2022-31 (https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/msr_fy22.pdf).

Fischer, Bart. “The Trillion Dollar “Farm” Bill“. Southern Ag Today 2(28.4). July 7, 2022. Permalink

Research Assistant Professor and Co-Director

The Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M

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