House and Senate conferees met Wednesday to finalize an agreement on the agricultural appropriations bill. The conference report will now go to the floors of both the House and Senate for final approval, with House action expected early next week.
The final bill includes $262.482 million for the USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). The National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR), of which NAWG is a member, advocated for $300 million for this competitive grants program that replaces the former National Research Initiative. The agreed level of $262.482 million represents an increase of $61 million, or more than 30 percent, from the funds provided in FY2009, a significant achievement in light of current budget constraints.
The bill also includes some specific earmarks of interest to wheat: $1 million for Ug99 research; $1.052 million for grain disease research; $3.74 million for an Agricultural Research Service laboratory in Pullman, Washington; and $290,000 for the cereal disease lab in St. Paul, Minn., which had been proposed for elimination in the Obama Administration budget proposal.
The bill also includes full funding of $200 million for the Market Access Program (MAP) and $34.5 million for the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program. These two programs are essential to the overseas market development work of U.S. Wheat Associates and USDA cooperators serving other commodity communities.
On Wednesday, the last day of the federal government’s 2009 fiscal year, the Senate approved the legislative appropriations measure including a one-month continuing resolution to fund the rest of the government. President Barack Obama signed the bill Thursday.
The full conference report and other information is available online at http://appropriations.house.gov/