The House Appropriations Committee approved a bill Tuesday that would deeply cut from the agriculture and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) budgets in FY2012, particularly in the area of agriculture research.
The bill would allocate a total of $125.5 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding, with $2.7 billion in discretionary spending cut from the FY2011 level.
Included in the approved bill were two amendments from Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) that would reopen provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill.
The first would reduce the maximum adjusted gross income for those qualifying for farm program payments from $750,000 to $250,000, while the second would redirect funds for direct payments from those with cotton base acreage to pay for a settlement between the U.S. and Brazil in an ongoing trade case.
In perhaps the most radical development from the mark-up, Members voted later in the mark-up to approve a proposal from Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) to move the $147 million allocated for payments under the settlement with Brazil to the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program – leaving no funds for the settlement payment. This action would put the U.S. out of compliance with the Brazil settlement and allow that country to impose sanctions on U.S. products, including wheat.
Flake did not propose another amendment he was rumored to be working on, to defund the Market Access Program (MAP).
Research funding provisions of the bill were largely unchanged from the agriculture subcommittee’s version of the legislation.
A bit more than $2.2 billion is included in the bill for ag research programs through USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The full Committee bill provided slightly more than the subcommittee for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) grants program, at $229.5 million versus $225 million.
Still, research monies under the FY2012 bill would be cut 13 percent from FY2011 and about 20 percent, or more than $600 million, from FY2010 levels.
Among other things, this would mean closing 10 ARS facilities, though it appears none of those facilities are heavily wheat-focused.
The bill must now go to the floor of the House. The date for that action is unclear, but the House did pass this week its first FY2012 appropriations bill, to fund homeland security operations. Additional appropriations bills could be considered by the full body the week of June 13; the House will be on recess next week.
A summary of spending levels and reductions from the agriculture subcommittee mark-up is at http://appropriations.house.gov/_files/52311AgricultureSubMarkUpSummaryTable.pdf.
Details about the amendments adopted by the full committee are at http://appropriations.house.gov/_files/AmendmentsAdoptedtoAGAppropsBillFY12.pdf.