On Wednesday the House Appropriations Committee passed the FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill. This legislation funds many important programs such as food safety, animal and plant health, rural development, farm services and nutrition programs with $19.4 billion in discretionary funding.
Representative Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) offered an amendment, adopted by voice vote, which would prohibit funding for farm program benefits to individuals or entities with an adjusted gross income of more than $250,000. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) proposed a similar amendment to the Senate farm bill this week, but his amendment was defeated 15-84.
Agricultural research programs, which must be funded each year, would receive $2.5 billion under the bill, a cut of $35 million from FY2012 spending levels. While $20 million was cut from the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) budget, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) competitive grants program was increased by $12 million from last year.
It was rumored that Flake planned to offer amendments to defund MAP and FMD but he decided not to move forward. MAP and FMD were fully funded for 2013 in the bill. Concern remain that these amendments could be offered on the House floor even though both have had strong support from both chambers in past appropriations cycles.
The House Agriculture Appropriations bill is expected to be considered on the House floor next week, pushing the House mark up of the their version of the farm bill to Wednesday, July 11.
House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) has been quoted saying that the appropriations bill is a “mini farm-bill” and that the Agriculture Committee Members need to be prepared to help their friends on the Appropriations Committee get this legislation passed.