Farm lobbyists are warily watching the tax-overhaul legislation moving through Congress, which comes with some favorable terms for them now but may have a big catch later: less money for farm programs crucial to producers dealing with lower commodity prices.
The farm groups are looking beyond the tax debate to a new farm law due in 2018 that could get squeezed if a bigger deficit caused by tax cuts makes less money available for farmers.
Multiple independent analyses of the Republican tax plan anticipate it would boost the federal budget deficit by as much as $1.5 trillion over 10 years. A Congressional Budget Office report released last week concluded that it would trigger automatic spending cuts of as much as $136 billion in the current fiscal year. One of the programs at risk in that scenario is $9.5 billion in farm subsidies, according to the National Farmers Union, the second-biggest U.S. farmer group.
“By far our biggest concern is what does this do to the deficit, and how does that impact upcoming farm bills,” said Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union in Washington. “If we blow a $1.5 trillion hole in the deficit, will people be saying a month later, ‘We need to scale back the farm bill’?”
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