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The Hagstrom Report | House ag approps approves bill

June 6, 2013
In The News

House ag approps approves bill
The Hagstrom Report | June 6, 2013



The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee approved a fiscal year 2014 Agriculture appropriations bill today.

The measure passed on a voice vote, although it appeared that all Democratic members of the committee voted against it.

Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., the subcommittee chairman, noted that the subcommittee's discretionary 302(b) allocation in budget authority is $19.45 billion, and the bill stayed within that number.

Discretionary spending in the bill is $1.3 billion, or 6.2 percent below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level, and is $516 million, or 2.6 percent below the president’s budget request, Aderholt said.

He noted that the president’s request for Agriculture did not include funding for the P.L. 480 – Food for Peace program because the administration proposed changing the program and shifting it to the U.S Agency for International Development, but that the subcommittee had included a provision for food aid with no structural changes to the program.

Mandatory spending in the bill totals $120 billion, an increase of $1.1 billion above the fiscal year 2013 level, and a decrease of $2.1 billion below the budget request.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said during the markup that appropriators are continuing to cut discretionary spending while mandatory spending “is zooming.”

"This bill starkly shows the reality with which we are confronted on this committee,” Rogers said. “I think it is ridiculous.”

Democrats on the committee praised Alderholt for his management of the bill and performance as subcommittee chairman, but said they could not support it because the allocation was too small.

Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., noted that international food aid had been cut by 20 percent.

Rep. Rosa De Lauro, D-Conn., a former chairman of the subcommittee, said she was upset by cuts to the Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children known as WIC, a 1 percent increase in the budget for the Food and Drug Administration, which has responsibility for implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act, and by cuts to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which is supposed to implement the Dodd-Frank financial services act.

She also said that there is report language to urge USDA to move slowly on implementation of menu labeling in restaurants and on the country-of-origin labeling for certain products, but details of those provisions were not available.

De Lauro said that the cut to WIC would result in women, infants and small children not getting benefits, but an Appropriations committee spokeswoman said the bill contains enough money to cover all the expected beneficiaries in the program. There are 8.7 million persons on the program at the present time, and the administration has continually overestimated the number of people who will sign up for WIC, the spokeswoman said.

In his statement, Aderholt noted that the bill increases oversight of WIC vendors and requires the Agriculture secretary to report on strategies to “weed out fraud, waste and abuse” in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps.

De Lauro told reporters “there seems to be a particular focus on nutrition for cuts.”