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Debt Limit Crisis Raised as Farm Bill Threat at Senate Ag Hearing

Ag leaders told a Senate Ag panel, farm bill spending must be increased to meet soaring input and interest costs, inflation, foreign competition, and disasters. But a top Ag Senator fears the looming debt ceiling crisis may prevent that.

Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow said; “I have serious concerns about the potential for default that’s hanging over our heads, for all of us who care about this farm bill.

Stabenow first headed the panel during the 2011 debt limit crisis and added; “And ultimately, that ended up in across the board cuts to a variety of mandatory programs, including ARC And PLC, which continues today…and will continue for another eight years, regardless of the current debate—5.7 percent every year.”

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says the U.S. could default as early as June first without a White House-GOP deal to raise the nation’s borrowing limit—a deal that could severely limit new spending.

This exchange between American Farm Bureau head Zippy Duval and Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa; “I continue to hear that we need to improve and strengthen the farm safety net. Do you have any idea of ways of doing that, without spending any more money?” Duval” (laughs) I wish I did—I’d get the prize of the day.”

Nor did other farm group witnesses who all sought more money to boost crop insurance, ARC and PLC reference prices, conservation, and trade programs.

And National Association of Wheat Growers’ Brent Cheyne argued; “The farming safety net makes up only two-tenths of one-percent of federal spending. It is essential to keep food supplies stable and rural economies, thriving.”

Wheat Growers joined over 400 farm and food groups that asked Congress’ budget committees to increase the farm bill ten-year baseline, already at a record 1.4 trillion dollars.

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