Senate debate on agriculture spending bill continues

By Aarian Marshall

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, June 18, 2014 - Senate debate on the appropriations “minibus” bill - which includes agriculture - continued today, as a number of lawmakers introduced bills both directly and peripherally related to agriculture.

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“Supporting this bill is a no-brainer,” Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Mark Pryor, D-Ark., said in a prepared statement. “It sustains our agricultural producers, communities and families, it strengthens our economy, and it secures the future of our nation.”

“Agriculture is something America does better than anyone else,” Pryor said, pointing out that the sector contributes $17 billion to the economy of Arkansas alone.

Senate debate on the $120 billion minibus bill, which includes funding for the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, is expected to continue for about a week.

Amendments related to agriculture and introduced on the floor today include:

- an amendment from Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., that would reallocate $2 million in funding to USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service for wetland determinations. According to Thune's office, there is a backlog of more than 3,000 undetermined wetlands in South Dakota alone, meaning farmers cannot apply for water management practices on their affected lands.

- another Thune amendment that would expedite the process that makes emergency feed available to farmers in times of drought.

- an amendment from Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, that would require FDA and USDA to consistently update Congress on their attempts to secure work visas for U.S. food safety inspectors from the Chinese government and to investigate Chinese processing facilities. The amendment, Brown says, is a response to the deaths of 1,000 dogs linked to tainted pet treats processed in China.

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