Debt Crisis, Farm Bill Linked

A debt crisis faceoff and a farm bill deadline are two linked challenges facing U.S. agriculture this year with predictions by one Washington Ag lobbyist that Congress will meet both challenges.

Randy Russell with the DC-based food and ag policy Russell Group predicts there will be no avoiding open debate this year on the debt crisis now that the Treasury has run out of borrowing authority.

“The Republican-controlled House will use the debt ceiling to force a debate on the nearly 32 trillion dollars in total federal debt, continues one-and-a-half trillion-dollar annual deficits, and the growing threat of unchecked entitlement program spending.”

An argument Republicans will use to pressure the White House for cuts, as the president resists concessions and blames the GOP for risking a U.S. default with global economic consequences.

“You will hear much about the threat of a default on U.S. government debt, but what about the threat of the mounting federal debt? The debt ceiling will be raised, but a new fiscal blueprint needs to accompany it.”

One that could impact the top line for farm bill spending, though Russell disagrees with the conventional wisdom that says a farm bill won’t get this year.

“Yes, there will be budget and policy challenges, and yes, there will be lengthy and at times, contentious House and Senate floor debates, but with Senator Stabenow retiring in 2024 and Representative Thompson chairing his first farm bill process, both are highly motivated to get it done by 2024.”

And both the farm bill and avoiding a debt default are linked. A default would crush farm bill hopes and the economy, while budget reforms could make funding an already tough farm bill even tougher.

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