House panel targets food programs, food safety for cuts, May 31, 2011
by Jay Sjerven

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An agriculture appropriations bill for fiscal year 2012 being marked up by a House panel would cut funding for certain domestic and international food assistance programs and pare resources available to food safety agencies and futures markets regulators.

The House Committee on Appropriation’s subcommittee on agriculture, rural development, Food and Drug Administration and related agencies, proposed an agriculture appropriations bill for fiscal 2012 that included $17.2 billion in discretionary funding, a cut of more than $2.6 billion from the fiscal 2011 level authorized under the continuing resolution and more than $5 billion less than what President Barack Obama requested for these programs in his fiscal

2012 budget.

The subcommittee’s proposal would fund the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program in fiscal 2012 at $5,901,250,000, a level that would be $832,777,000, or 12%, lower than funding of $6,734,027,000 in fiscal 2011 and $1,408,850,000, or 19%, lower than President Obama’s request for fiscal 2012 at $7,390,100,000.

The subcommittee leadership asserted the bill would allow the Secretary of Agriculture to utilize fiscal year 2011 carryover funds, $125 million in contingency funds and other funding options currently authorized in law to allow W.I.C. participants to continue to receive the benefits for which they qualify. But Representative Norman Dicks of Washington, ranking Democrat on the appropriations committee, said the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities indicated funding W.I.C. at the level proposed by the subcommittee would result in turning away of 325,000 to 475,000 eligible low-income and children next year.

The subcommittee’s bill would provide $139 million in funding for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, a level that was $19 million less than was appropriated for fiscal 2011 and $16 million less than what the President requested in his budget proposal.

The subcommittee proposed funding U.S. food donations abroad under the Food for Peace program (P.L.480 Title II) in fiscal 2012 at $1,040,198,000, down $456,802,000, or 31%, from $1,497,000,000 in fiscal 2011 and down $643,302,000, or 38%, from the President’s request for fiscal 2012 at $1,683,500,000.

The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program would be funded at $180 million in fiscal 2012, down $19,101,000, or 10%, from $199,101,000 in the current year and down $20,500,000, or 10%, from the President’s request for $200,500,000.

The subcommittee proposed funding the Food and Drug Administration at $2,172,239,000 in fiscal 2012, down $284,762,000, or 12%, from $2,457,001,000 in the current year and down $571,726,000, or 21%, from the President’s request for fiscal 2012 at $2,743,965,000.

The subcommittee proposed appropriating $171,930,000 for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in the upcoming year, which was 43% less than the President’s request at $308 million.

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