Congress passes ag funding bill
WASHINGTON -- The House and Senate approved fiscal year 2010 Agriculture appropriations conference report that provides aid to dairy farmers, provides less spending for the national animal identification system that advocates wanted and includes ...
WASHINGTON -- The House and Senate approved fiscal year 2010 Agriculture appropriations conference report that provides aid to dairy farmers, provides less spending for the national animal identification system that advocates wanted and includes a compromise to allow imports of poultry meat processed in China.
The conference report, which combined the bills passed earlier by the House and Senate and which now goes to President Obama for his signature, provides the money for the Agriculture Department, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Farm Credit Administration. The bill totals $23.3 billion in discretionary spending and $97.83 billion in mandatory programs including farm subsidies.
The House went first, approving the bill of the fiscal year 2010 Agriculture appropriations conference report containing aid for dairy farmers and a smaller budget for the national animal identification system by a vote of 263-162 Oct. 7. The Senate vote Oct. 8 was 76-22.
The bill includes $350 million in aid to dairy farmers, including $60 million for purchases of dairy products and $290 million for direct aid to dairy farmers. Because of conflicts between small Northeastern and Midwestern dairy farmers and larger Western dairy farmers, the measure leaves the decision on how to allocate the direct aid up to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
"I trust that the Secretary of Agriculture will work to get this funding out quickly and into the right hands, Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Herb Kohl, D-Wis., said in a news release. "We are all acutely aware of the hardships affecting dairy farming, which seems to have been hit from all directions this year. I hope this funding will bring a measure of relief to those who are struggling."
The Chinese poultry provision will allow the Agriculture Department to proceed with a rule that would allow the importation of processed chicken products from China. House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., who had opposed the imports on food safety grounds, said the rule will require the Chinese poultry to "live up to American sanitary conditions before they are shipped to the United States."
The bill also includes authorizing legislation for a one-year extension of the child nutrition programs, including the school lunch program. Congress is expected to reauthorize those programs in 2010.