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Agricultural News

House Appropriations Committee Advances FY 2016 Ag Spending Bill

Fri, 10 Jul 2015 17:37:34 CDT

House Appropriations Committee Advances FY 2016 Ag Spending Bill The House Committee on Appropriations Wednesday approved the fiscal 2016 agriculture appropriations bill by a voice vote. It provides $20.65 billion in discretionary funding - $175 million less than fiscal 2015 and $1.1 billion less than the president's budget request. The bill funds agricultural and food programs and services, including food and medical product safety, animal and plant health programs, rural development and farm services, marketplace oversight and nutrition programs.

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) submitted a request to the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee to fully fund the Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative. The bill included report language recognizing that fusarium head blight is a major threat to agriculture and indicating the Committee's support for the research carried out through the Initiative.

The National Pork Producers Council applauded passage of the legislation for including an increase of $5 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative for research on combatting antimicrobial resistance. It also directs the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to add $2.3 million to the current funding level of $3.7 million, for a total investment of $11 million, for research on antimicrobial resistance. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., added an amendment that would require USDA's Agriculture Research Service (ARS) to work with USDA's Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to ensure that animal research conducted at ARS facilities is in compliance with Animal Welfare Act regulations.

According to Agri-Pulse, House appropriators have agreed to block imports of fresh beef from regions of Brazil and Argentina until the Agriculture Department does further study on the potential risk from foot and mouth disease. The committee also agreed to provide food companies some protection from lawsuits over trans fat. But the committee defeated a Democratic effort to extend a ban on the slaughter of horses and protected a provision sought by the cotton industry to allow farmers to exceed the $125,000-per-grower limit on farm subsidies.

The Appropriations bill includes reductions to Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation programs, decreasing funding for the Environmental Quality Incentive Program by $300 million and decreasing the annual enrollment of new acres into the Conservation Stewardship Program by 2.259 million acres. A policy provision delaying the enforcement of the Conservation Compliance link to crop insurance for the 2016 reinsurance year was also included in the bill.

During Committee consideration of the legislation, the Committee rejected several amendments that could have affected farm programs and the crop insurance program. Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) offered an amendment that would've required that payments under the commodity certificate program, which would be reactivated under the bill, be subject to the overall $125,000 payment limitation included in the 2014 Farm Bill. Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) offered an amendment to prohibit crop insurance premium support for producers with more than $750,000 in Adjusted Gross Income. And Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) offered an amendment that would have removed the prohibition on the disclosure of recipients of crop insurance premium support. Each of these amendments were rejected by voice vote.

Two amendments proposed by Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., failed to pass, including one to prohibit funding for horse slaughter inspections, which would have kept in place a ban on processing horses, and one to strip from the funding bill a rider prohibiting the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans from including language related to agriculture sustainability.

The bill now awaits consideration by the full House, where additional amendments could be considered.


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