Conferees reached a final agreement on the $100.2 billion Fiscal Year 2006 Agriculture appropriations bill Wednesday. Major provisions in the bill include a boost in food stamp and nutrition spending while delaying mandatory country-of-origin labeling.
Another major provision of the bill strengthens a House provision that would restrict USDA's ability to move forward with a premium reduction plan. The Kingston-Boyd provision would go into effect on July 1, 2006, the start of the 2007 reinsurance year.
Support was largely split along party lines. Senate Agriculture Ranking Member Tom Harkin, Iowa, criticized the many provisions that go back on what was intended in the 2002 Farm Bill, including significantly reduced funding for the Conservation Security Program.
The bill provides $17.1 billion in total discretionary spending, a 1.5% increase of $258 million over the FY05 enacted level and $258 million below what the Senate proposed. President Bush had requested $16.74 billion in discretionary spending.
Here's an overview of funding levels for different Agriculture Departments:
- Food Safety Inspection Service would see a $20 million increase to $838 million.
- Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will receive a $7 million increase to $820 million, which is still $40 million less than the Administration reqested.
- Food and Drug Administration would be funded at $1.5 billion, a $40 million increase form last year by $10 million below the President's request.
- Food stamp programs would be increased nearly 16%, or $5.6 bill, to $40.7, billion. Child nutrition programs would get $12.7 billion, an $879 million increase over FY05 spending.
According to a report in CongressDaily, "the bill terminates rural telephone bank loan authorizations at a savings of $175 million, the higher education agrosecurity program at a savings of $5 million and the national disaster emergency loan subsidy at a savings of $3 million."