House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Approves FY 10 Bill

From: The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition: On Thursday, June 11, the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee met to markup and vote on the agriculture appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2010. The bill provides $22.9 billion in discretionary funds, an increase of approximately 11 percent over FY 09 levels but $79 million short of President Obama's request.

The bulk of the increased funding in the bill goes for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and international food aid. Under the bill, the WIC program receives $7.54 billion, up $681 million or 10 percent from FY 09 but close to $240 million short of the President's request and likely short of the funding level it will receive in the final FY 10 bill later this year. FDA receives $2.35 billion - an increase of $299 million - and this amount reaches $3 billion factoring in user fees. International food aid receives a $464 million increase to $1.7 billion, while the McGovern-Dole international school lunch program receives doubles in size to $200 million.

Since the bill has not yet been released publicly, we cannot report on how all sustainable agriculture priorities fared. Next week's edition of the Update will include full information and an updated version of our appropriations tracking chart. We do know the following:

  • Conservation: The draft bill allocates $980.3 million (a 1% increase) in discretionary spending for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The bill rejects all of the cuts to farm bill conservation programs proposed by President Obama (thus saving $267 million worth of funding for the Wetlands Reserve, Farmland Protection, and other programs) except for a proposed $270 million cut to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (a $20 million larger cut than proposed by the President). With the cut factored in, EQIP would have $1.18 billion available in FY 10. The bill also restores funding to the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention program and the Resource Conservation and Development program, both of which the President proposed to eliminate.
  • Marketing and Rural Development: The draft bill allocates just over $1 billion for Marketing and Regulatory Programs and $2.8 billion for Rural Development. The bill funds the Value-Added Producer Grant program at $18.9 million, rejecting the Obama-proposed increase to $21.9 million and the NSAC request for $30 million. The National Organic Program would receive $6.7 million under the bill, the same $2.8 million increase as the Administration requested.
  • BFR IDA: The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Individual Development Accounts pilot program is not funded. We hope there will be an amendment to the bill in full committee to provide for the $5 million requested by the President and endorsed by NSAC. The IDA program authorization was an NSAC 2008 farm bill priority. We have not yet received word on the bill’s overall farm credit funding levels.
  • Research: The bill level funds the Agricultural Research Service at about $1.2 billion and increases funding for the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service by 2% to $1.25 billion. Increases were included for formula funds and for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, though we do not have precise numbers. The Organic Transitions Research program is more than doubled to $5 million, but sadly the Sustainable Agriculture Research Education (SARE) program receives level funding at $19 million. SARE funding will need to increase later in the appropriations process or the SARE federal-state matching grant program cannot be initiated next year as anticipated.
  • Energy: The Subcommittee bill would retain the $60 million in mandatory funding for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and provide an additional $20 million in discretionary funding. The $80 million total is in keeping with the farm bill authorization, in contrast to the President’s request for $128 million for the program, an amount that far exceeded the authorization.
  • NAIS: The bill eliminates funding for the National Animal Identification System, a move that will certainly receive additional debate as the process moves forward.

The Subcommittee approved the draft bill by voice vote without amendment. The full committee markup is expected to occur on Thursday, June 18.

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