Senate Appropriations Committee approves ag discretionary spending for FY 2013

By Sarah Gonzalez

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, April 26, 2012- The Senate Committee on Appropriations approved the FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill today with overall discretionary spending for fiscal year 2013 at $20.785 billion. 

Fiscal Year 2012 discretionary spending included $19.565 billion, plus $367 million in disaster funding.

Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo., noted the bill's funding level is higher than the amount provided last year, but ten percent below the 2010 level. He and Senator Herb Kohl, D-Wisc., emphasized that the bill places significant emphasis on research programs.

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“Sound ag research is the cornerstone of success for all of the ag industry,” Blunt said. “Continued investment in research will make it possible for us to meet the global food demand, expected to double by 2050.”

Blunt included a provision in the approved manager's amendment to allow farmers that plant USDA-approved biotechnology crops with the assurance they can harvest and sell them in the marketplace. He referenced lawsuits that resulted in the challenges to alfalfa and sugar beet varieties.

“Programs directly related to public health and safety and domestic and international nutrition assistance programs were prioritized,” noted the Committee statement. Kohl said that Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) expenses in particular rose over the past year.  

Chairman Dan Inouye, D-Hawaii, noted that the agriculture bill is $50 million below the amount requested by the Administration.

A summary of the funding levels provided by the Committee is below: 

Food and Drug Administration: The fiscal year 2013 bill provides $2.524 billion for the Food and Drug Administration. Included in this amount is an increase of $12.5 million for implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act. The bill does not provide funds for several proposed user fees that have yet to be authorized.

Food Safety and Inspection Service: The fiscal year 2013 bill provides $1.001 billion for the Food Safety and Inspection Service. This includes an increase above the budget request for Federal inspection activities and the full funding requested in the budget for State and international inspection activities. 

Domestic Nutrition: The fiscal year 2013 bill provides $7.041 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). This level will fully fund participation in the program. This level also provides $60 million for breastfeeding peer counselors, $14 million for infrastructure, and $30 million for management information systems. For other domestic nutrition programs, the fiscal year 2013 bill provides $397 million. This includes $187 million for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which fully funds participation.

Foreign Food Assistance: The fiscal year 2013 bill provides $1.466 billion for PL 480 Title II, the same level as fiscal year 2012 and $66 million more than the budget request. The McGovern-Dole Program, which provides school meals to the world?s poorest children, is funded at $184 million.

Research: The fiscal year 2013 bill provides $1.239 billion for the National Institute on Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and $1.101 billion for the Agricultural Research Service. Specifically within NIFA, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative is funded at $298 million, the Hatch Act is funded at $236 million, the McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry program is funded at $33 million, and Smith-Lever Sections 3(b) and 3(c) is funded at $294 million.

Rural Development: The fiscal year 2013 bill provides $2.276 billion in budget authority for Rural Development, which effectively maintains loans and grants essential to small and remote rural communities. The single family housing loan level is steady at $900 million, the water and waste water loan and grant program exceeds $1.5 billion, and $2 billion in loans is provided for essential community facilities.

Farm Service Agency: The fiscal year 2013 bill provides $411 million for farm loan programs. The bill provides $1.208 billion for salaries and expenses. The bill also provides full funding to support the agencies' information technology requirements.

Conservation: The fiscal year 2013 bill provides $828 million for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The bill does not include funding for the Watershed Rehabilitation Program.


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