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Report Shows Ways to Save Billions in Ag Programs



(NAFB)--According to a report released by the Congressional Budget Office Wednesday - Congress could save about 130-billion dollars over 10 years from reductions or changes to several ag-related programs. In fact - the CBO report provides 103 options for lawmakers to decrease federal spending or increase federal revenues over the next decade. The 316-page report covers a range of federal programs. For agriculture - the report touches on the areas of conservation, crop insurance, direct payments, food stamps, school lunches and the Forest Service.

According to the report - prohibiting new enrollment in the Conservation Stewardship Program could reduce federal spending by eight-billion dollars from 2015 to 2023. During the same period - the report said prohibiting new enrollment and re-enrollment in the general enrollment portion of the Conservation Reserve Program could reduce spending by five-billion dollars. Reducing crop insurance subsidies - the report said - could save 27-billion dollars. This reduction would involve lowering the federal government’s subsidy to 40-percent of the crop insurance premiums on average. The report also suggests limiting the federal reimbursement to crop insurance companies for administrative expenses to 9.25-percent of estimated premiums and limiting the rate of return on investment for those companies to 12-percent each year. The CBO said the elimination of direct payments could reduce overall spending on farm programs by 25-billion dollars.

As for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - the report said 50-billion dollars could be saved with three changes. The first would be to apply standard income and asset requirements to people who would otherwise be entitled to benefits through broad-based categorical eligibility. The CBO said this could save 10-billion dollars from 2015 to 2023. Lowering the income limit for households that are not categorically eligible for benefits and that have no elderly or disabled members from 130-percent of the federal poverty level to 100-percent - according to the report - could save two-billion dollars during the same period. Finally - the CBO said eliminating the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program loophole could save 11-billion dollars from 2015 to 2023.

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