The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee zeroed out funding for USDA’s National Animal Identification System (NAIS). Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), chair of the subcommittee, said, “After receiving $142 million in funding since fiscal year 2004, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has yet to put into operation an effective system that would provide needed animal health and livestock market benefits.” There has been growing congressional frustration over the past two years regarding USDA’s animal identification (ID) efforts. USDA is currently conducting animal ID listening sessions and is expected to announce its plan afterward.
Food Safety Passes Committee — The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed H.R. 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act. The legislation is to increase the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority to respond to and prevent food contamination. The bill will require the creation of a tracing system that would make it easier to track the source of food-borne disease outbreaks. FDA would be given authority to inspect all food facilities and impose mandatory recalls. High-risk facilities would be inspected every year. The committee accepted an amendment that exempts meat, poultry, eggs and the farms and facilities that produce and process them. This was a major issue for the livestock industry. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) said, “We are pleased that the Energy and Commerce Committee addressed our key concerns with the food-safety legislation. They recognized that USDA has sufficient authority and the expertise to oversee livestock and poultry operations.” Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) offered an amendment that would ban the use of certain antibiotics for livestock. The amendment was not voted on, but Schakowsky and Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the committee, plan to have the committee address the issue later. This is going to be a major issue for the livestock industry.
USDA FY 2010 Appropriations — The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee passed USDA’s fiscal year 2010 appropriations bill which provides $20.4 billion in discretionary funding – an increase of $2 billion over last year. The bill gives greater funding for nutrition programs and food safety. The bill provides:
- $7.5 billion for the Women, Infants and Children’s (WIC) feeding program, which is an increase of $681 million. WIC now represents 40% of USDA’s FY 2010 discretionary budget.
- Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is funded at over $1 billion.
- Foreign Market Development (FMD) program is fully funded at $34.5 million.
- Market Access Program (MAP) is fully funded at $200 million. The Obama administration and the House Republican leadership had urged cuts in this program.
- Conservation programs are funded at $980 million, which is approximately $12 million more than FY 2009. The subcommittee did not cut the Wetlands Reserve Program, the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program as proposed by the administration.