House Appropriations to Look at Ag Spending Bill

House Appropriations to Look at Ag Spending Bill

More cuts are coming for USDA.

A House Appropriations Subcommittee will mark up a $17.2 billion 2012 ag spending bill on Tuesday. That's nearly $2.7 billion less than Congress' final fiscal year 2011 amount, which was a 14% reduction from the year before.

The bill the panel chaired by Jack Kingston, R-Ga., will approve cuts that dig even deeper into the muscle of USDA.

"Well, you know we're all in the same boat as Americans for every dollar we spend 40 cents is being borrowed," Kingston said. "So it would be disingenuous to think that there is this one group that can't be touched. Everybody really needs to be holding hands together as we work through this."

Several farm groups, legislators, and administrators have voiced the fact that while USDA is willing to do its part, it is important that other areas also do their part in bringing spending under control.

Under a legislative draft released Monday, discretionary funding for ag research would be reduced by $354 million next year with nearly $200 million coming from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA's primary extramural research agency.

Kingston, who has used the term corporate welfare to describe the value of publicly-funded ag research, suggests that private industry should be picking up a larger share of the tab.

"If you are specifically going after one disease or one type of seed that benefits one or two or maybe a handful of companies that distribute that seed and benefit from it, then I'd say why isn't the corporation itself doing that corporation itself doing that research instead of the tax dollars," Kingston said.

According to the draft, nutrition spending would be cut by over $900 million, food aid by $486 million and rural development by $338 million. Funding for farm loan and risk management programs would be reduced by a combined $127 million dollars.

The bill will be marked up by the full Appropriations Committee on May 31.

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