Late in the evening of July 17th, following over twelve hours of debate and markup, the House Budget Committee passed its budget parameters for fiscal year (FY) 2018. The budget, which was voted out of Committee along partisan lines (22 Republicans voting in favor and 14 Democrats against), includes an immediate $10 billion 10-year cut to farm bill food and agricultural programs – a move that promises to cause problems, if not wholly derail, the upcoming farm bill negotiations.
The Committee’s budget proposal sets the blueprint for both discretionary (appropriated) and mandatory spending through resolution. As expected, the budget provides “reconciliation instructions” for tax cuts as well as instructions for 11 authorizing committees to cut at least $203 billion in mandatory funding over the coming decade. The authorizing committees would be required to write legislation to achieve those cuts and report that legislation back to the Budget Committee by October 6th.
Included within the $203 billion in cuts to mandatory spending is a $10 billion cut to food and agriculture programs within the farm bill. Though theoretically the Agriculture Committee could cut any program within their jurisdiction, the explanatory materials provided by the Budget Committee make plain that the target is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly referred to as food stamps. The severity of such a cut, its potential political impact on the feasibility of passing the next farm bill, and the consequences such a funding loss would have for American low-income and rural communities cannot be understated.
Source: National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, July 20, 2017.