U.S. agricultural leaders in Congress are writing a farm bill that is already billions of dollars over budget at a time when they are trying to cut costs and modernize the U.S. farm safety net.

Amid squabbling among farm lobbyists, the lawmakers are feverishly working behind closed doors to forge a new farm bill so it can be added to a government-wide deficit bill being negotiated by the super committee.

“They’re (senators) asking for things that are way more expensive than we can afford,” said Minnesota Rep Collin Peterson, Democratic leader on the House Agriculture Committee, when cost estimates were delivered early this week.

Only a handful of senior lawmakers are involved in drafting the farm bill; by some accounts, only the chairs of the House and Senate Agriculture committees.