The Senate Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee also voted today by voice vote to approve its draft FY 2015 bill and report it to the full Senate Appropriations Committee. The full Committee is scheduled to consider this bill on Thursday, May 22. Neither the bill text nor the Committee report are yet available, but should be within the next two days. The Committee’s summary of the bill can be found here.
Subcommittee Chairman Pryor (D-AR), in his opening statement, said the Subcommittee’s allocation is $20.575 billion, which I note is lower than the $20.88 billion provided to the House Subcommittee. He highlighted several specific items, including:
- $85 million for the Emergency Watershed Protection Program and $15 million for the Emergency Forestry Restoration Program;
- $6.623 billion for the WIC program, which fully funds participation;
- The budget request levels for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, the Farmers Market Nutrition Program and the Emergency Food Assistance Program;
- $25 million to help local school districts purchase new food service equipment;
- $1.466 billion for the PL 480 Food for Peace Program, the same as fiscal year 2014;
- $1.139 billion for the Agricultural Research Service, which is $17 million above fiscal year 2014;
- $1.292 billion for NIFA, which is $15 million above fiscal year 2014. including $325 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, $244 million for Hatch Act, and $300 million for Smith-Lever funding;
- $2.588 billion for the Food and Drug Administration, which is $36 million above fiscal year 2014, providing all of the funding changes requested in the budget, including an increase of $23 million for implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA); and
- $1.023 billion for the Food Safety and Inspection Service, which includes full funding for all federal, state and international inspection services.
Subcommittee Ranking Member Blunt complimented Chairman Pryor for the bill, and said that the full Senate is expected to take up the bill later this summer.
No amendments were offered during this markup, with the expectation that they are being held until Thursday’s full Committee session. Senator Collins (R-ME) announced that she intends to offer an amendment to include white potatoes in the WIC program, saying that the USDA rule is not based on the most recent nutritional data regarding the value of white potatoes. Senator Hoeven (R-ND) said he will offer amendments regarding the school lunch program. Those are expected to deal with upcoming requirements for the use of 100 percent whole grain rich items in the program, as well as concerns about further changes in sodium standards.