President Bush is expected to sign the Fiscal Year 2006 appropriations bill that passed both the House and Senate last week by wide margins.
The $100 billion agriculture spending package funds the annual operations of the USDA and related agencies.
The bill includes several dairy-friendly items:
- An amendment to the National Dairy Promotion Act that permits the National Dairy Board to authorize - only in FY 06 - funds to be expended on environment and public health issues. This language would then permit the NDB to vote to authorize $6 million to fund air quality research as part of the new consent agreement with EPA;
- Funding for the National Johnes disease program at a level of $13.2 million.
- Funding for the Market Access Program at $200 million, and Foreign Market Development at $34.5 million.
The appropriations bill did not include two key items that the National Milk Producers Federation had been working to get attached to the legislation:
- Dairy plant regulatory language (Rep. Nunes's bill, HR 4015) that addresses a loophole in milk marketing orders affecting sales of milk in state orders from federally-regulated regions.
- Language excluding animal livestock from CERCLA (superfund) and EPCRA environmental statutes. That means dairy operations remain subject to a series of environmental regulations, including these, and the Clean Air and Water Acts.
Additional items that were included in the legislation were:
- A delay in the implementation of country-of-origin labeling for meat. Originally insert into the 2002 Farm Bill, mandatory meat labeling has been delayed several times. This appropriations bill postpones it again until 2008.
- A provision relaxing organic food production regulations that allows synthetic substances to be used in organic products, including dairy foods. The measure also relaxes the organic feed requirement for dairy farms.