April 25, 2012
On April 19, we reported that the Senate Appropriations Committee had approved discretionary spending allocations for the coming 2013 fiscal year. The size of the total spending pie, as laid out by the Committee, was completely consistent with the levels set by law in the Budget Control Act of 2011.
Today, the House Appropriations Committee set its own discretionary spending allocations, but rather than abide by the spending caps agreed to by both the House and Senate in last year’s Budget Control Act, it lowered them an additional $19 billion.
On the Senate side, the allocation allows the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee to provide discretionary funding of $20.785 billion for USDA and FDA programs.
The House allocation, as it passed today, caps House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee discretionary spending on USDA and FDA programs at $19.4 billion, roughly $1.4 billion below the Senate level. (The House Democrats put forth an unsuccessful amendment to peg the agricultural allocation at $21.1 billion).
To put this $1.4 billion in perspective, the entire discretionary spending appropriation in FY 2012 for the Food Safety Inspection Service was $1 billion. The difference is also more than all discretionary spending for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and over half of all rural development spending in FY 2012.
As the House and Senate move forward with their respective agriculture appropriations bills, they will be moving on very different paths.
The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to mark up its agriculture appropriations bill tomorrow morning. We do not know much about the Chairman’s mark, which has yet to be released; however, funding levels for most programs are expected to be very close to if not the same as last year’s levels.
On the House side, the future of the agriculture funding bill is much less clear. The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee has yet to set a date to mark up its bill. An allocation this low complicates matters, making it extremely difficult for the members of the Subcommittee to do their work. Moreover, President Obama has said that he will veto any spending bill that does not conform to the levels set out in the Budget Control Act.
More likely than not, the House’s unwillingness to abide by the agreement struck in 2011 will lead to a rancorous and drawn out fight over vastly different spending bills come the end of the fiscal year. We hope that, instead, the two chambers are able to reconcile their bills in conference at the Budget Control Act level and pass something that supports and enhances rather than undermines important rural development, research, conservation, and beginning farmer programs.
Stay tuned for a detailed analysis of the FY 2013 Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bill after it is released tomorrow.
Categories: Beginning and Minority Farmers, Budget and Appropriations, Commodity, Crop Insurance & Credit Programs, Conservation, Energy & Environment, Food Safety, Local & Regional Food Systems, Nutrition & Food Access, Organic Farming, Research, Education & Extension, Rural Development