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Monday, November 14, 2011

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2012 Appropriations

Jim Monke, Coordinator
Specialist in Agricultural Policy

The Agriculture appropriations bill provides funding for all of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) except the Forest Service, plus the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and, in alternating years, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

Separate FY2012 Agriculture appropriations bills have been passed by the House and Senate; a final conference agreement is pending. FY2012 has begun under a short-term continuing resolution through November 18, 2011.

In the House, the Agriculture appropriations subcommittee marked up its FY2012 bill by voice vote on May 24, 2011. The following week, the full appropriations committee reported the bill (H.R. 2112, H.Rept. 112-101) by voice vote, after adopting several amendments. On June 16, 2011, the House passed H.R. 2112 by a vote of 217-203 after adopting 22 amendments and removing 4 provisions by point of order.

In the Senate, the full Appropriations subcommittee marked up an FY2012 Agriculture appropriations bill (H.R. 2112, S.Rept. 112-73) by a vote of 28-2 on September 7, 2011. On November 1, 2011, the Senate passed H.R. 2112 by a vote of 69-30 as part of a “minibus” appropriation that includes Agriculture and two other appropriations bills. Twelve amendments were adopted on the floor for the Agriculture portion of the minibus.

The House-passed bill would cut discretionary Agriculture appropriations to $17.25 billion, a reduction of $2.7 billion (-14%) from FY2011 levels, and following a 15% cut in FY2011. Much of the floor debate related to funding reductions for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) feeding program (-11%), food safety (-10%), and international food aid (-31%); preventing USDA payments to Brazil in relation to the U.S. loss in the WTO cotton case; and programs promoting locally produced food (USDA’s “know-your-farmer-know-your-food” initiative).

The Senate-passed bill would cut discretionary Agriculture appropriations to $19.8 billion, a cut of -0.8% below FY2011 levels. The Senate bill is $2.7 billion more than the House bill in its discretionary total (excluding CFTC from the House bill for comparison). The Senate bill’s discretionary total is greater than the House bill primarily in the following areas: domestic nutrition programs (+$645 million, mostly for WIC), foreign assistance (+$544 million), FDA (+$350 million), agricultural research (+$320 million), rural development (+$180 million), and fewer rescissions and farm bill limitations (+$430 million). In addition to the amounts above, the Senate bill contains $376 million of disaster assistance for conservation and forestry.

The House bill for FY2012 contains nearly $2 billion in rescissions and limitations on mandatory farm bill programs. The Senate bill contains about $1.5 billion of such rescissions and limitations. These actions are used to score savings that help meet the discretionary budget allocations and help avoid deeper cuts to regular discretionary accounts. The FY2012 bill has about the same $2 billion level of rescissions and limitations as the FY2011 appropriation. Had the FY2012 House proposal not maintained this level of reductions—which is significantly greater than in past years—even larger cuts might have been required to the regular discretionary accounts. The FY2012 bills propose a unusually high reduction to mandatory farm bill programs ($1.4 billion in the House bill, $1.1 billion in the Senate bill), including about $1 billion from conservation programs.

Date of Report: November 3, 2011
Number of Pages: 82
Order Number: R41964
Price: $29.95

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