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Published March 01, 2010, 04:45 PM

Ag budget gets mixed reaction

WASHINGTON — House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., told Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Feb. 24 that the she is pleased with the Obama administration’s requests in the fiscal year 2011 budget to increase domestic nutrition, but questions whether the administration’s plans for a national animal identification program run by the states can work.

By: Jerry Hagstrom, Special to Agweek

WASHINGTON — House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., told Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Feb. 24 that the she is pleased with the Obama administration’s requests in the fiscal year 2011 budget to increase domestic nutrition, but questions whether the administration’s plans for a national animal identification program run by the states can work.

Vilsack testified to the subcommittee, DeLauro praised the administration’s request to increase the budget for the nutrition program for women, infants and children known as WIC by $351 million, a 4.8 percent increase, and the commodity supplemental food program, which buys commodities to distribute to poor people, by $5 million, a three percent increase.

But she said she is worried that the flat funding levels for the PL 480 Title II international food aid program and the McGovern-Dole international school feeding program will mean that undernourished people around the world will go hungry. Because of higher food prices, the number of undernourished people in the world has increased by more than 150 million in the past two years, and now numbers more than a billion.

DeLauro says she thinks the administration’s request for a $7.3 million increase or one percent, for the Food Safety and Inspection Service may be too small to address the continuing concerns about the meat, poultry and egg products that agency inspects.

Despite the administration’s recent announcement about plans to change the national animal identification program, DeLauro said she is so disappointed in the agency’s management of the $147 million already spent on it and “skeptical” about the administration’s request for $14 million to continue it. DeLauro said she thinks the nation needs a national animal identification program to stop mad cow disease and foot and mouth disease.

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