The Congressional Budget Office has released its cost estimates for Democrats’ spending package known as the Inflation Reduction Act.

The bill would authorize $19.9 billion in new funding for four conservation programs between fiscal 2023 and 2027. But it’s going to take much longer than that for USDA to spend the money, and some of that conservation funding will be trimmed by automatic cuts required by a 2011 budget law.

Bottom line: CBO estimates USDA will actually spend $15.3 billion of that conservation funding by 2032. Under budget reconciliation rules, funding authorized by the bill is supposed to be spent within a 10-year window. According to congressional sources, any spending authority that USDA doesn’t use before 2032 would be lost.

According to a more detailed CBO analysis that wasn't made public, the largest share of the unspent funding would be in the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which would be dramatically expanded under the bill. Don’t be surprised if there's an effort to reallocate some of that funding at some point, assuming the bill passes.

Also: Separately, CBO estimates USDA will spend $13.3 billion on rural development, including $10.7 billion for rural electric co-ops and renewable power. Another $4.75 billion would be spent on forestry projects.

Input costs seen squeezing growers in 2023

Next year is shaping up to be much tougher for corn growers, according to a new analysis out of the University of Illinois

Farmers in northern Illinois are forecast to see a net return of $193 this year, according to the report. That’s a steep drop from 2021, when corn growers there netted $477 after operating costs and cash rent. But in 2023, those growers are projected to be in the red, losing $11 an acre, the economists say. 

The reason won’t surprise any farmers: Prices for fertilizer and other inputs are expected to drive direct operating costs (not including such indirect costs as land and machine rental) to $555 an acre, up from $480 this year and $382 in 2021. 

The economists are assuming the corn prices will slip to $5.30 a bushel in 2023, down from an estimated $5.80 for this year. 

The economists note there’s obviously a risk that 2023 could be even worse. “For 2023, much higher prices than average historical prices are needed to maintain some profitability,” the report says.

By the way: The numbers aren’t much better for soybeans: The economists project soybeans will net $64 an acre this year, down from $287 last year, and just $11 in 2023. 

Keep in mind: If this forecast is right, or too optimistic, there is going to be even more pressure on Congress to put more money into the farm bill’s commodity title. 

And there’s this: A separate report led by Ohio State economist Carl Zulauf says North Dakota and South Dakota have accounted for one-third of all prevent-plant corn and soybean acres since 2007. The report raises the question of whether the insurance planting dates are set correctly for those states. 

Newhouse, Herrera Butler look to move on in Washington congressional races

Two Washington Republican members of Congress who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump seem to have survived their primary battles. In Washington, the top two vote-getters advance, and as Wednesday came to an end, Rep. Dan Newhouse held a lead in the 4th District and Jaime Herrera Beutler was running firmly second to her Democratic challenger in the 3rd.

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Newhouse’s opponent will likely be Democrat Doug White, who had 26% of the vote to Newhouse’s 27.3% with about half the vote counted. White was born and raised in Yakima and is now running his family farm and a farm-to-table restaurant. Beutler will go up against Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, who owns an independent auto-repair shop with her husband and had captured 31.8% of the vote to Herrera Beutler’s 25%.

'Eric' won Missouri's GOP primary for Blunt Senate seat.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt triumphed over Rep. Vicky Hartzler and ex-Gov. Eric Greitens, after former President Donald Trump issued an endorsement Monday of “ERIC,” without a last name. He never specified which Eric he meant, even though pre-Election Day speculation had him favoring Greitens.

Both “Eric” candidates claimed the endorsement, but Schmitt, with 45.7%, easily bested Hartzler, who captured 22%, and Greitens, who had 19%.

Schmitt’s opponent is Trudy Busch Valentine, who defeated Marine veteran Lance Kunce.

Noted: Although Trump-endorsed candidates like Loren Culp, who ran against Newhouse, lost, other candidates who had the former president’s backing won. CNN was projecting that Trump's picks would win the GOP gubernatorial primary in Michigan and the Republican nominations for U.S. Senate, secretary of state and attorney general in Arizona.

In Michigan, Republican Rep. Peter Meijer lost to election denier John Gibbs, a former high-ranking official at the Department of Housing and Urban Development who had Trump’s nod.

Senators target Chinese land ownership in new bill

Adding to the legislation seeking to curb Chinese influence in the U.S., Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., have introduced a bill that would prohibit Chinese Communist Party members from purchasing any land in the country.

The senators said even though “Chinese entities held slightly less than 1% of all foreign-held acres in the U.S. in 2020,” the total land held by Chinese investors has increased substantially since 2010.

Newhouse has introduced a bill that would ban sales of ag land to persons or companies with ties to the government of the People’s Republic of China. The Cotton-Tuberville bill is more broadly worded, banning the sale of “public or private real estate” to CCP members or anyone acting on their behalf.

He said it: “Her experience running a foundation in Romania that provided food and medical supplies to needy children clearly informed her time in Congress. Whether she was fighting for justice or for fentanyl victims or advocating for educational choice for children, she always put others first.” – House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on the passing of Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind. Walorski and three others died in a car crash Tuesday. Two were her staffers: communications director Emma Thomson and district director Zach Potts.

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