October 16, 2009
The U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have completed legislative action on the 2010 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. On Oct. 7, the House approved the Conference Report on a vote of 263-162, and the Senate followed on Oct. 8, passing the measure on a vote of 76-22.
The $121.13 billion bill, which provides funding for the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Farm Credit Administration, includes $23.3 billion in discretionary authority, a $2.7 billion increase over the fiscal year 2009 enacted level and $325 million above the president's request. While making specific and sensible budget cuts where feasible, the bill once again focuses on several key areas, such as overall public health issues; maintaining adequate food nutrition programs; investing in rural development; an increase in funding for agriculture research; strengthening animal health and marketing programs; and conserving natural resources.
Several of the sheep priorities that the American Sheep Industry Association has been able to confirm to date include $17.9 million for the scrapie eradication program; Wildlife Services (WS) operations received $77.8 million; WS methods and development is slated for $18.6 million; and wool research was granted $206,000
Some of the other major provisions of the bill include:
- $82.8 billion in domestic nutrition programs;
- $4.3 billion in funding for the two primary federal agencies responsible for regulating safety for our food and drug supply, including $2.36 billion for FDA ($306 million above FY09) and $1.02 billion for the Food Safety and Inspection Service ($47 million above FY09) to help ensure the safety of the U.S. meat and poultry supply;
- $2.8 billion for agriculture research ($174 million above FY09) including $1.25 billion for the Agricultural Research Service ($63 million above FY09) and $1.3 billion for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture ($121 million above FY09). This amount includes an increase of nearly $61 million for competitive agricultural research grants;
- $2.97 billion for Rural Development including rural housing assistance, water projects, community facility construction and renovations;
- $140.6 million to the Agricultural Credit Insurance Fund in budget authority to support more than $5 billion in farm operating, ownership and conservation loans;
- $909.7 million for Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service ($28.3 million above FY09) to fund programs that protect American agriculture against animal and plant diseases;
- $1 billion for conservation programs ($40 million above FY09) for the Natural Resources Conservation Service to improve service in the field, deliver conservation to protect the environment and upgrade aging dams at risk of catastrophic failure;
- $168.8 million for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission ($22.8 million above FY09) to enhance oversight of the commodity futures markets;
- $350 million in dairy assistance to provide assistance to the nation's dairy farmers who are struggling due to historically low prices, including $290 million to assist struggling dairy producers and $60 million to allow for the purchase of cheese and other dairy products for food banks; and
- the bill fully funds the costs to continue overseeing country of origin labeling for fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and other products.
The bill now goes to the president for his signature.