Senate Appropriations Committee approves Agriculture funding
Bill includes $13 million for sustainable food systems in countries with chronic food shortages.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $124.5 billion, fiscal 2010 Agriculture appropriations bill Tuesday that includes a key Obama administration request for $13 million for sustainable food systems in countries with chronic food shortages. The bill passed 30-0 on a roll call vote.
The committee's action was timely, as President Obama is expected to promise at the G-8 meeting in Italy this week that the United States will provide more money for agricultural development in poor countries as part of a global food security initiative.
Overall, the bill includes $1.89 billion for international food aid, an increase of $564 million above the fiscal 2009 level not including supplemental appropriations, and the same as Obama's request.
Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Herb Kohl, D-Wis., noted that the Bush administration relied on supplemental legislation to meet annual food aid requests rather than budgeting for them, and said he believes Obama's budget proposal "included more reliable estimates."
Of the food aid money, $1.69 billion is for the Food for Peace Title II program, $464.1 million above fiscal 2009, and $199.95 million is for the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program, $99.5 million above the fiscal 2009 level.
Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member Sam Brownback, R-Kan., noted that the bill provides additional funds for research to develop new food products that may use micronutrients to address health problems in developing countries. Brownback noted that 60 percent of the food aid budget now goes for administration and transportation, which he described as "out of whack."
The Senate bill does not include a controversial provision in the House fiscal 2010 Agriculture appropriations bill that would stop funding for a national animal identification program that would require meat animals to be registered from birth until slaughter. But Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said he was working on an animal identification amendment similar to the House provision that he may offer on the Senate floor.
The $124.5 billion package includes $100.8 billion for mandatory farm subsidy and nutrition programs, compared with $87.8 billion in the fiscal 2009 bill. Most of the increase in mandatory spending is for nutrition programs. People who qualify for the mandatory farm and nutrition programs are automatically eligible for participation.
The bill includes $23.7 billion for discretionary programs, compared with $21.36 billion in the fiscal 2009 bill and the president's request of $23.6 billion. USDA discretionary programs include food safety, agricultural research and rural development.
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