SENATE PANEL APPROVES FY09 AGRICULTURE SPENDING BILL

News Article -

       The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY09 agriculture spending bill on July 17 which provides about $18.4 billion in discretionary funding for USDA and farm programs. The measure also includes more than $2 billion in FY09 for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
       The committee approved the spending measure by an unanimous vote and passed two amendments. The first amendment was offered by Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) to ban imports of meat and livestock from Argentina until the country is free from foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). NASDA sent a letter in support of the amendment to lawmakers and a copy has been posted on the NASDA website. The second amendment would allow travel to Cuba for marketing agricultural and medical supplies. Following are some of the agricultural spending highlights included in the appropriations bill:
       * The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is provided more than $1.1 billion, which is an increase of $13 million from FY08 and $97 million more than the president's budget request. It includes an increase of $3 million for food security costs (colony collapse disorder and wheat stem rust).
       * The Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) is provided more than $973 million which is an increase of $43.4 million over FY08 spending. It includes $3 million for the Humane Animal Tracking System and increases the number of full time employees for humane slaughter enforcement activities.
       *  Conservation Operations is provided $866.8 million which is $32.4 million more than the FY08 budget.
       * The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is provided $861 million.
       * The Farm Service Agency and Rural Development are provided $67.6 million to upgrade failing information systems. In addition, $1 billion is provided for rural housing rental assistance.  (Contact: Charlie Ingram)