Ag Policy Blog
Todd Neeley DTN Staff Reporter

Tuesday 04/15/14

SNAP Program Sees Change in CBO Estimates

While the level of potential federal budget savings from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, was a big sticking point in the Congressional debate during the most-recently passed farm bill, updated Congressional Budget Office budget projections for 2014 to 2023 include a large cut in projected savings in the program.

CBO's baseline for SNAP in May 2013 that was used during farm bill negotiations, estimated the bill would spend $764 billion on SNAP between 2014 and 2023. The bill was said to reduce that spending by about $8 billion, as of May 2013. The new CBO baseline pegs spending on SNAP from 2015 to 2024 at $728 billion.

CBO said in an analysis Monday that "Technical revisions have decreased projected outlays for SNAP over the 2015-2024 period by about $24 billion (3%). The most significant of those revisions is a change in CBO's estimate of the average monthly SNAP benefit per person; CBO lowered that estimate on the basis of updated data from the Department of Agriculture."

Actual spending on SNAP in 2013 was about $83 billion according to CBO. The baseline projections show that spending drops to $78 billion in 2014, $76 billion in 2015-2016, $74 billion in 2017, then falling to $71 billion annually from 2021 to 2024.

Also on Monday, the Government Accountability Office said in a report that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency delays in setting volumes in the Renewable Fuel Standard have contributed to domestic reduction in the consumption of petroleum products.

"For some refiners, compliance with the RFS increased costs in the first half of 2013, though costs have since declined to some degree from their peak," GAO said in its report.

"According to some stakeholders GAO contacted, this was primarily due to RFS requirements exceeding the capability of the transportation fuel infrastructure to distribute and the fleet of vehicles to use renewable fuels.

"Moreover, EPA has missed the statutory deadline to issue regulations establishing annual RFS blending standards since 2009. EPA has not systematically identified the underlying causes of these delays or changed its approach in order to avoid them. A late RFS contributes to industry uncertainty, which can increase costs because industry cannot plan and budget effectively, according to some stakeholders."

GAO recommended that "EPA identify the underlying causes of delays in issuing RFS standards and implement a plan to issue RFS standards on time. EPA generally agreed with GAO's findings and recommendations."

The GAO said EPA's ability to meet RFS deadlines will be vital to petroleum markets.

"The extent to which requirements in the key regulations increase costs for refiners will affect the industry's outlook," GAO said.

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Posted at 12:11PM CDT 04/15/14 by Todd Neeley
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