A coalition of medical and consumer groups is urging Congress to limit the use of antibiotics for livestock. The coalition sent a letter to Congress saying "the evidence is so strong of a link between misuse of antibiotics in food animals and human antibiotic resistance that (the Food & Drug Administration) FDA and Congress should be acting much more boldly and urgently to protect these vital drugs for human illness. In fact, government data show that the vast majority of antibiotics in the United States are sold for use in food animals, not people." Members of the coalition include Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Feed Availability Hearing Set – The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry will hold a hearing on Wednesday, Sept. 14 to examine the issue of feed availability and its effect on the livestock and poultry industries. Witnesses will include representatives of the livestock, poultry and feed industries.
FY '12 Agriculture Appropriations – The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, which funds the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration. The bill provides $19.78 billion in discretionary funds – a decrease of $138 million from FY 2011 appropriations. This compares to the House-passed bill of $17.081 billion in discretionary spending. The bill includes:
• Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS): The Senate bill provides $1.007 billion for FSIS. The House bill cut funding to $972 million.
• Food and Drug Administration (FDA): $2.497 billion, an increase of $50 million over FY '11. The increase is to assist in the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act passed by Congress last year.
• The Women, Infants and Children (WIC): Nutrition programs receive $6.6 billion, $100 million less than last year.
• Foreign Market Development Program (FMD) and the Market Access Program (MAP): fully funded at $34.5 million (FMD) and $200 million (MAP).
• The Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute on Food and Agriculture (NIFA) receive $2.309 billion compared to $2.348 billion in FY '11.
• Natural Resources Conservation Service: $828 million compared to $871 million in FY '11. The bill does not include funding for the Watershed Rehabilitation Program.
• Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP): cut $35 million from farm bill mandatory funding.
• Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP): Received a $350 million reduction from the farm bill dedicated funding level of $1.750 billion for FY '12.
The bill now will be considered by the Senate this fall.
Deficit Reduction Super Committee – The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction will hold its first hearing this week as it begins efforts to forge an agreement to find savings of $1.5 trillion. Both federal programs and revenues may be considered by the committee, which is to report to Congress by Nov. 23. Congress needs to pass the recommendations by Dec. 23. The House and Senate Agriculture Committees have until Oct. 14 to make their farm bill spending recommendations to the joint committee. If the committee or Congress fails to come up with the required savings, then sequestration will be implemented.
P. Scott Shearer