Our Take

New Analysis: Farm Bills Save Billions Less Than Previously Expected

March 04, 2013
Programs: Agriculture

Last year's trillion-dollar farm bills would have saved billions less than proponents claimed.

View/Download this article in pdf format

In perhaps the least surprising news from last Friday, it turns out the trillion-dollar farm bills special interests were pushing to enact last year would have saved billions less than proponents claimed. Up to $10 billion less according to a report released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). What a difference seven months makes.

Taxpayers dodged a bullet last year when Congress wisely rejected cramming a trillion-dollar farm bill onto the fiscal cliff package, instead extending most programs through the end of this September. Lawmakers from agriculture-heavy states had been selling their farm bill proposals as deficit reduction bills. Spend a trillion, save a few billion…But just as we predicted, the “savings” aren’t appearing.

In fact, while CBO projected in July 2012 that the Senate-passed farm bill would save $23 billion over the next ten years, as compared to business as usual, CBO’s most recent analysis anticipates a meager $13 billion in saving - $10 billion less. Similarly, the House Agriculture Committee-passed bill was originally estimated to save $35 billion but is now expected to reduce farm bill spending by only $26.6 billion over the next ten years.


Projected Costs of 2012 Farm Bills Were Greatly Underestimated


10-Year Cost Savings Estimate, July 2012

10-Year Cost Savings Estimate, March 2013

2012 Senate-passed Farm Bill

$23 billion

$13 billion

2012 House Agriculture Committee-passed Farm Bill

$35.1 billion

$26.6 billion


This is just more evidence that Farm Bills are not deficit reduction bills. See our Fact Sheet: Cost of Recent Farm Bills for more details.


Filed under: Cut Subsidies, Rein in Deficits

Weekly Wastebasket

Our weekly reality-check for federal spending. View All

October 14, 2016

Hurricane Matthew Impacts

All the noise swirling around the 2016 elections has helped obscure a real life disaster. Hurricane Matthew... Read More

TCS Rated 4-Star Charity!