The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said
Tuesday that the $1 trillion farm bill coming up for a vote on Wednesday will reduce deficits by $16.6 billion over the next ten years.
The deficit score is less than the $23 billion touted by House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders on Monday when the bill was released.
An aide explained that the committee uses a different baseline than CBO because the CBO already incorporates $6.4 billion in sequestration cuts. Accounting for the change, the $23 billion reduction still stands, the aide said.
The House-passed farm bill was scored by CBO as saving $51 billion while the Senate bill was scored as saving $17.7 billion.
CBO said the new bill will cost $956 billion over ten years. Most of the spending, to the tune of $756 billion is on food stamps.
The official scorekeepers said that, as predicted, the bill contains $8 billion in food stamp cuts over ten years, achieved by making it more difficult to qualify for nutrition aid by virtue of receiving home heating aid.
The farm subsidy savings is less than in either the House or Senate bills, however. The bill saves $14.3 billion, about $3 billion to $4 billion less than in the draft bills.
More generous crop insurance provisions increase spending by $5.7 billion over ten years, CBO said. That is more than in the Senate bill but less than in the House.
The score is based off of CBO's May 2013 assumptions about commodity prices and the economy.
Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense called the savings "paltry."
"Considering the last two farm bills are on pace to cost $400 billion more than CBO predicted forgive us if we think it’s a farm bill deficit cut mirage," he said.
The CBO score reveals that the dairy subsidy compromise in the bill, which does not contain production controls opposed by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), costs more than the Senate bill. The dairy program costs $912 million instead of $302 million. The bill also has $1.4 billion more in disaster assistance than the Senate version.