WASHINGTON, April 20, 2016 - The fiscal 2017 spending bill for the Agriculture Department, Food and Drug Administration and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission is headed to the House floor - and possible fights over farm programs. The House Appropriations Committee approved the measure Tuesday after adding an amendment to block the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (rider) from issuing new regulations for poultry and livestock contracting practices.

The addition of the GIPSA rider and a $3 million plan that’s included in the bill to promote consumer acceptance of agricultural biotechnology will set up fights with Senate Democratic appropriators, who will likely argue against the provisions. The House committee narrowly adopted the GIPSA rider, 26-24, after five committee Republicans voted against it. Democrats tried to strip the GMO funding from the bill but the effort failed, 20-29, when only one Republican, Washington’s Jaime Herrera Beutler, voted with them.

Despite Republican infighting over 2017 spending levels, House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway says Speaker Paul Ryan is committed to putting the spending bills on the floor and to providing opportunities for members to offer a broad number of amendments. Some of them could target crop insurance and other farm programs. “Thats part of the open process that Paul is committed to, and Im committed to going down there and defending our side,” Conaway said.

Also headed to the House floor is the fiscal 2017 Energy-Water bill, which includes a provision blocking the administration from implementing its “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule - should existing court stays be lifted. The bill also maintains funding levels for ports and waterways backed by agricultural shippers, rejecting a deep cut proposed by the White House.

The Senate is scheduled to turn to its version of the 2017 Energy-Water spending bill after finishing work on a sweeping energy policy bill on Wednesday. The Senate spending bill doesn’t include a WOTUS rider, but Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., has prepared an amendment for debate. A spokesman said he hadn’t been assured of a vote on it. 


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