From the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS Senate Committee Adopts Ag Spending Bill On Thursday, July 15, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2011 Agricultural Appropriations bill by voice vote. The agriculture bill proposes to spend $22.838 billion for all discretionary spending (net of a variety of cuts to mandatory programs) for the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, and several smaller government agencies. This is nearly $300 million less than the FY 2010 level and $27 million less than what President Obama requested. Climate Change Letter Delivered to Senators The passage of climate change and energy legislation in this Congress is still an open question. Proposals range in scope from the American Clean Energy and Security Act - a comprehensive energy and climate bill passed by the House in 2009 but stalled in the Senate - to a narrow bill focused only on the BP oil spill and offshore drilling. CBO Examines Federal Funding for Biofuels A Congressional Budget Office report issued on Wednesday, July 14 examines the costs to taxpayers of achieving national energy goals for different types of biofuel. Child Nutrition with Farm to School Passes House Committee On Thursday, July 15, the House Education and Labor Committee approved the child nutrition reauthorization bill. The bill includes $50 million in mandatory funding over five years for farm to school programs nationwide and incorporates language very similar to Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NJ) Farm to School Improvements Act that NSAC strongly supports. USDA NEWS FSA Programs Get USDA Push USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative recently highlighted Farm Service Agency (FSA) resources that can be used to expand and diversify farm businesses, preserve natural resources critical to future farm income and create links with local and regional food systems. USDA Awards Wetland Enhancement Projects On July 12, David White, Chief of the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), announced 5 projects approved to receive funding through the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP). A special congratulations to the Iowa National Heritage Foundation, a NSAC member organization, awarded $2,000,000 to restore and protect 600 of Iowa's wetlands. Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative Awards On Friday, July 9, USDA announced the award of $6.6 million in FY2010 conservation funding for 26 Conservation Cooperative Partnership Initiative (CCPI) projects in 15 states. In addition, 4 projects were awarded $1.3 million under the special Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative of the CCPI. FSIS Names Advisory Committee on Meat & Poultry Inspection On Thursday, July 15, USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service announced the reestablishment of the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI) and the newly appointed members of the committee for 2010-2012. Congratulations to active NSAC participant Steve Warshawer of Mesa Top Farm, Beneficial Farm CSA, and La Montanita Coop in New Mexico and the National Good Food Network for his appointment to this advisory body! Resources and Showcase for Local and Regional Food Systems This week, as part of the USDA Know Your Farmer Know Your Food initiative, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack reported on investments in rural economies through development of local and regional food systems. The new Ideas and Stories webpage on the Know Your Farmer Know Your Food website creates a venue for sharing successful stories of food system entrepreneurship from around the country. The website also informs producers about USDA resources while helping consumers connect to their local farmers and ranchers.