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House advances ag appropriations bill

House advances ag appropriations bill

THE House appropriations subcommittee on agriculture, rural development, food and drug administration and related agencies voted June 5 to send to the House Appropriations Committee a $139.4 billion bill to fund mandatory and discretionary programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food & Drug Administration in fiscal 2014, which begins on Oct. 1.

Mandatory program spending for 2014 is estimated at nearly $120 billion, which is $2.6 billion below President Barack Obama's request and $52 million below the 2013 enacted level.

The $19.5 billion in proposed discretionary spending, which is approximately equal to the current spending level due to the automatic sequestration cuts, is $1.3 billion below the 2013 level and $516 million below the President's request.

Passed without amendment by the subcommittee on a voice vote, though not unanimously, the bill would provide $200 million for the Market Access Program, $34.5 million for the Foreign Market Development Program, $823 million for conservation operations, which includes technical assistance services, $6.7 billion for the Women, Infant & Children nutrition services, $76.3 billion for food stamps and $2.2 billion for rural development.

The legislation includes $999 million for food safety and inspection programs, which is $31 million below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level. These mandatory inspection activities help ensure the safety and productivity of the country's $832 billion meat and poultry industry. The funding provided will maintain more than 8,000 frontline inspection personnel for meat, poultry and egg products at more than 6,200 facilities across the country.

The legislation provides $1.5 billion for the Farm Service Agency, which is equal to the 2013 enacted level.

FDA receives almost $2.5 billion in total discretionary funding in the bill, an increase of $24 million from the 2013 enacted level. Total funding for FDA, including revenue from user fees, is $4.3 billion. Within this total, funding increases by $27 million for food safety activities and by $2.5 million for drug safety activities.

Included in the bill is $195 million for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which is $10 million below the 2013 enacted level and $120 million below the President's budget request.

The bill does not contain the President's proposed food aid changes to move the Food for Peace program to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Agency for International Development but instead contains $1.15 billion for the grants and is $284 million below the 2013 enacted level.

It does limit spending for some conservation programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, at $1.35 billion, and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, at $45 million.

"The funding in this bill will help keep America's agricultural research cutting edge, maintain vibrant rural communities, provide nutrition to those most vulnerable and keep our markets competitive while maintaining the safest food and drug supply in the world," subcommittee chairman Robert Aderholt (R., Ala.) said in a June 4 news release. "At the same time, this bill honors our commitment to be good stewards of taxpayers' limited dollars."

The House Appropriations Committee has not yet announced when it will debate the fiscal 2014 USDA and FDA spending bill.

The Senate agriculture appropriations subcommittee could mark up its 2014 appropriations legislation the week of June 17.

Volume:85 Issue:23

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