The federal government will be funded until April 8 under a new continuing resolution finalized this week.
The House passed the bill Tuesday by a 271-158 vote; the Senate approved the measure Thursday by an 87-13 vote.
The agreed upon amount of cuts to avoid a government shutdown for three weeks was $6 billion, which tracks with House Republican goals of reducing spending by a total of $100 billion from the Obama Administration’s FY2011 budget proposal.
Cuts, which were largely pre-negotiated and announced last Friday evening with CR bill text, eliminated $2.6 billion in earmark account funding renewed in a continuing resolution passed in December.
Of that total, $358 million came from agricultural research funds, including $122 million from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s research and education mission; $115 from the Agricultural Research Service; $24 million from Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) salaries; $37 million from conservation programs; and $11 million from extension services.
The new CR is the sixth passed since the fiscal year began last October and likely to be the last. But while Members of both parties in both chambers have made clear there is no appetite for another short-term extension, there also appears to be no clear path forward for a longer-term budget for the remainder of FY2011.
Even while discussions on funding for FY2011 continue, FY2012 negotiations are beginning.
This week, the House Agriculture Committee submitted its views and estimates letter, which makes budget recommendations for programs within the Committee’s jurisdiction, to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
Saying the Committee “wants to be part of the solution”, the panel’s leaders outlined in detail cuts that have been made in recent years to agriculture spending, including through the 2008 Farm Bill and the 2010 renegotiation of the Standard Reinsurance Agreement.
The letter said funding for farm policy, including crop insurance, has declined 28 percent in the most recent five-year period compared to spending from 2002 to 2006.
The letter also noted that the agriculture sector has often been a “catalyst for economic growth” during the U.S. economy’s darkest days, and it warned against believing cuts to the safety net are warranted now because of high commodity prices.
On Friday, nearly 30 national commodity groups also wrote Ryan and his Democratic counterpart, Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), reiterating budget savings agriculture programs have achieved in recent years while stressing the importance of solid risk management tools.
As in past communication on the budget, the groups also urged proportionality in any cuts, noting that total agriculture safety net spending accounts for less than one-quarter of 1 percent of all federal spending.
“Agriculture has always contributed to deficit reduction in the past when called upon,” the groups wrote. “However, we do feel strongly that any contribution must be commensurate with our effect on the budget.”
To read the full coalition letter, please visit www.wheatworld.org/budget.
The full House Ag letter is available online at http://agriculture.house.gov/pdf/business-meeting/BudgetviewsestimateletterFY12.pdf.