November 2004 -- An $84 billion Fiscal Year 2005 Agriculture Appropriation Bill received unanimous approval in mid September from the Senate Appropriations Committee. The budget reflects an increase of $109 million over FY04 levels for the U.S. Department of Agriculture?s (USDA) food-safety activities.
Successfully funded projects that directly impact the sheep industry include: scrapie eradication, wool research, Wildlife Services? operations, Wildlife Services? research, the Market Assistance Program and Foreign Market Development programs and the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center.
The scrapie eradication program is slated for $15.5 million in the Senate version, an amount equal to the current year?s funding level, while the earlier passed House version proposed $17.5 million. An amount of $300,000 has been allocated to university wool research.
It has been proposed that Wildlife Services? operations receive more than $73 million and Wildlife Services? methods development more than $17.4 million.
The committee has recommended an allocation of $2 million for the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center to continue funding loans and grants for the advancement of the U.S. sheep industry. This provision is a four-fold increase over the nearly $500,000 NSIIC received in FY 2004.
The bill fully funded both the Marketing Assistance Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) at $140 million and $34.5 million, respectively. The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) utilizes these matching-funds programs as a means of cost-sharing promotional and developmental functions and to fund overseas marketing activities.
?With the current budget situation, the Appropriations levels are extremely tight this year and we applaud the committee in funding the crucial sheep industry program,? said ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick.
The appropriations bill included recommendations for $8.3 million for BSE-related expenses and $33 million for USDA?s animal identification project. Committee action defeated an amendment to move the implementation date of mandatory country-of-original labeling (COOL) for all commodities from Sept. 30, 2006 to Jan. 1, 2005.
?It is timely to be working through the budget process so that the industry can plan its activities for the next fiscal year,? added Orwick. ?However, there is a possibility that the 2005 appropriations bill may not be finalized until after the November presidential elections.?