WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, warned passage of the pending budget reconciliation bill could trigger massive cuts in farm support programs – potentially zeroing out all farm program spending over the next five years.
As Senate Democrats rush to move their reconciliation bill, Boozman pointed to the possibility the legislation could result in automatic spending cuts under statutory pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules.
“Triggering PAYGO is a very real risk that this bill carries, and if that happens, our family farmers will be among those who will be hurt the most. In their rush to fill this bill with non-COVID related spending, Congressional Democrats have recklessly put the farm community at risk just when the agriculture economy is starting to turn a corner after several difficult years,” Boozman said.
Under statuary PAYGO, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is required to maintain five and ten year scorecards that show the cumulative estimated deficit impacts of legislation. If either scorecard indicates a net increase in the deficit, OMB is required to order a sequestration of all non-exempt programs, which includes important farm safety net programs.
PAYGO sequestration cuts can be prevented by waiving the cuts, but that requires 60 votes. This is a threshold Senate Democrats are seeking to avoid by utilizing the reconciliation process to pass their legislative priorities like a bailout fund for states.
“Agricultural producers have faced tough economic times over the last several years. Instead of continuing the precedent of working together on COVID relief, the Biden Administration and Congressional Democrats have opted to use reconciliation so they could pass unrelated items from their wish list. It is wrong to ask our farmers to pay for all this additional non-COVID spending,” Boozman said.