CBO releases score on Senate farm bill

The score is roughly in line with preliminary estimates by Senate Democrats and shows how counting sequestration savings helps bump up the bill's deficit reduction totals. 

CBO says the bill, authored by Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), cuts $18 billion over 10 years, compared to current law.

The bill cuts more, if one assumes that the automatic sequestration cuts that went into effect would be repealed. The farm bill keeps those cuts in place and can claim another $6.4 billion in savings by doing so. 

Added together, the cuts compared to repealing the sequester yield $24.4 billion in savings — about $1.4 billion more than Stabenow estimated when the bill was released last week.

The bill cuts $4 billion from food stamp programs, $17 billion from traditional farm subsidies and $3.6 billion from environmental programs. It then spends $5 billion to bolster crop insurance programs.

The CBO score indicates that a major challenge is in store for lawmakers when the House and Senate try to reconcile the bills they are crafting. The House farm bill is estimated to cut $20 billion from food stamps, a much higher figure sure to be opposed by Democrats. 

The House marks up its bill on Wednesday.