Obama signs two-year budget bill into law; avoiding shutdown
By Derrick Cain
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 27, 2013 - President Obama signed into law a two-year budget bill (H.J. Res. 59) that will avoid another government shutdown next month and ease sequestration rates for some federal agencies.
Obama signed the bill Thursday, while on vacation in Hawaii, without comment. The action came a little more than a week after the Senate approved it on a 64-36 vote. After the Senate vote, Obama said, “All told, it's a good first step away from the shortsighted, crisis-driven decision-making that has only served to act as a drag on our economy.”
The law will provide about $63 billion in temporary sequester relief divided evenly between military spending and domestic spending. The law will provide $85 billion in mandatory savings, and reduce the deficit by $23 billion over the next 10 years.
The law includes various agriculture sector-related provisions:
- It authorizes $404 million in funding for the National Bio and Agro-Defense facility (NBAF) in Kansas, which will eventually replace the functions of the aging Plum Island Animal Disease Center located off Long Island. NBAF will study dangerous foreign animal diseases as well as emerging and new infectious diseases that can be transmitted between animals and people.
- It authorizes the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to collect fees of up to $150 per conservation plan to cover some of the costs of providing technical assistance for a producer or landowner. The agriculture secretary can waive fees for assistance provided to members of historically underserved groups, such as beginning farmers or ranchers, limited resource farmers or ranchers, and socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers.
- The law ends the reimbursement USAID and USDA receive for excess costs associated with the requirement that 50 percent of all food aid be shipped on U.S. flagged vessels. Oxfam has said that could cost USAID's food aid program about $56 million annually.
A section-by-section summary of the law is available here.
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