Tuesday, May 24, 2011

House Appropriations Committee Releases FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill (Updated May 25)

On May 23, the House Appropriations Committee released the Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill (Committee announcement here).  By voice vote on May 24, the Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee passed the bill along to the full Appropriation's Committee for markup (Subcommittee meeting link here).  Here is a table (PDF file) comparing the FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill with last year’s levels and the President’s FY 2012 budget request. The full text of the bill (as a PDF file) can be found here.

According to the Committee release, the agencies and programs funded under provisions of the bill, including the USDA, would receive $125.5 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding, a reduction of more than $7 billion from the President’s FY 2012 budget request. Discretionary funding is reduced by $2.7 billion from 2011 levels ($5 billion below the President’s request).  Mandatory funding in the bill "increases by nearly $3 billion over last year to a total of $108 billion, and equals more than 86% of the total funding in the bill."

Domestic nutrition programs were particularly hard hit by the bill's cuts.  The bill proposes cutting $832 million (11 %) from the FY 2011 budget for the Women, Infants and Children program, and $2 billion (1.3%) from the food stamp (SNAP) program.  Republicans who wrote the bill said the cuts in domestic food programs are taken from excess dollars in those accounts, and participants would not see a decrease in services.

Some of the bill's other major funding cuts relating to Mississippi River Basin conservation issues include:
  • $770 million for Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation operations, designed to help farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners to conserve, protect and enhance their land (a decrease of $99 million below the FY 2011 funding level).
  • The Environmental Quality Incentives Program would be cut by $350 million. 
  • Acreage for sign-up to the Wetlands Reserve Program and Grassland Reserve Program is reduced by 64,200 acres and 96,000 acres, respectively.
  • The Conservation Stewardship Program would be cut $171 million relative to the spending level authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill.
  • $2.2 billion for agriculture research programs, including the Agriculture Research Service and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture(a decrease of $354 million below the FY 2011 funding level).
  • $15 million for dam rehabilitation to help small communities ensure their small watershed projects meet current safety standards.

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