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Statement of Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro

June 18, 2009
Press Release
Appropriations Committee Markup: Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2010

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (Conn.-3), chairwoman of the House Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered the following statement at the full committee markup of the fiscal year 2010 bill. The bill includes $22.9 billion in total discretionary spending – a $2.3 billion increase from fiscal year 2009 –which reflects proposed cuts totaling more than $721 million.

• The Department of Agriculture is funded at $20.4 billion – $2 billion above fiscal year 2009.

• The Food and Drug Administration is funded at $2.35 billion – $298.6 million above fiscal year 2009.

• The Commodities Future Trading Commission is funded at $160.6 million - $14.6 million above fiscal year 2009.

Below is DeLauro’s opening statement (as prepared for delivery).

Thank you, I am delighted to present the subcommittee’s recommendations for the 2010 Agriculture FDA Appropriations Committee Bill. Thank you, to Ranking Member Congressman Jack Kingston for his collaboration and input over the last few months. I want to thank both the minority and majority staff as well for all of your tireless work and Ranking Member Lewis for his leadership during this process.

Lastly and especially not least a special thank you to Chairman Obey for his counsel and for the resources he provided to make this bill possible. This is always a very busy couple of weeks and you have provided the leadership and vision to ensure we continue to get things done and achieve our goals.

We stand at a turning point. Today, we are talking about people’s lives – struck hard by an economy in chaos, unemployment rising, services shrinking and prices still going up.

After years of underinvestment in the federal government’s capabilities, I believe the Administration’s budget demonstrates that it is interested in protecting public health, supporting American agriculture, strengthening rural communities and conserving the environment. And with this Mark the Committee proposes new investments in those priorities and the agencies that can help us meet them.

As it has in recent years the bill focuses on several key areas such as: protecting public health; bolstering food nutrition programs; investing in rural communities; agricultural research; strengthening animal health and marketing programs; and conserving our natural resources.

As you know the Fiscal Year 2010 Mark provides $22.9 billon in discretionary budget authority. That is a $2.3 billion increase over 2009 levels, the vast majority of which went toward 3 program areas: WIC, FDA, and International Food Aid. Additionally, in order to invest in this bill’s important programs and use the resources available to it wisely, the Committee has proposed a number of cuts totaling more than $721 million.

Protecting Public Health The bill provides a substantial increase for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to support a total discretionary funding level of $2.995 billion – almost $373 million above fiscal year 2009 – to hire additional inspectors and conduct more domestic and foreign food and medical products inspection. The Food and Drug Administration’s first responsibility is to the American people, to ensure the safety of the food they eat, the drugs they take, and the medical devices they rely on. In addition, at the USDA the bill fully funds the Administration’s request for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), providing over $1 billion for FSIS for the first time in history.

Conservation With ongoing demands for cleaner water, reduced soil erosion, and more wildlife habitat, Congress believes that those resources are critical. The Committee makes a significant investment in USDA’s natural resource conservation programs. The bill appropriates a total of $980.3 million, or $72.9 million more than the Administration’s request and $11.9 million higher than 2009.

The bill rejects the Administration’s cuts to the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) farm bill conservation programs including: • The Wetlands Reserve Program • The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program • The Wildlife Incentives Program

The bill restores funding to all these programs and in total provides hundreds of millions of dollars more in funding for farm bill programs. In addition to the farm bill programs, the bill restores funding for other valuable programs, including the Resource Conservation and Development Program and the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program.

Improving Nutrition: Helping those hit hardest by the Economic Crisis WIC: Food costs and participation continue to increase at dramatic rates. The bill provides $7.5 billion for WIC to serve our nation’s vulnerable populations – $681 million above last year, to support participation of 10.1 million people, above the Administration’s participation level of 9.8 million. Also: $125 million is set aside for the upcoming WIC reauthorization including a number of program improvements such as: increasing fruit and vegetable vouchers, supporting management information systems, implementing the electronic benefit transfer system, and expanding breast feeding peer counseling program.

The bill does not provide the additional $225 million contingency fund that was requested since there is expected to be $487 million available in fiscal year 2010.

CFSP (Commodity Supplemental Food Program): The bill also includes record funding of $180 million for supplemental food for CSFP, an increase of almost $20 million above fiscal year 2009 and $17 million above the Administration’s request. The bill also provides funds to expand assistance in the 32 states currently with the program and to 6 new states with USDA approved plans: Arkansas, Oklahoma, Delaware, Utah, New Jersey, Georgia.

International Food Aid In developing countries alone, 907 million people are hungry today. As the financial crisis grows, commodity prices are dropping and export markets are disappearing – leaving poor countries less equipped than ever to fight poverty and end hunger.

The bill expands America’s traditional commitment to international food aid -- $464 million (27 percent) to P.L. 480 Title II Grants Program (the United States’ primary international food aid program) base funding level of almost $1.7 billion in fiscal year 2010. And an additional $99.5 million to the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, doubling the amount of funding appropriated in fiscal year 2009 to a total of $199.5 million.

Rural Development This Committee seeks to not only sustain our rural communities, but also create new opportunities for growth and development in the nation’s small town economies. The bill increases funding for water and waste water infrastructure grants by $73 million, provides $8.7 billion for housing, $541 million for community facilities, and $9.3 billion for the rural utility programs.

Supporting American Agriculture Research: The bill makes significant investments in agricultural research: $1.2 billion for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). And nearly $1.25 billion for the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES). Funding for CSREES is nearly $82 million over the Administration’s budget request, including increases in key programs such as Hatch Act, Evans-Allen, the new competitive Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, Smith Lever, the 1890 programs, and the Veterinary Medical Services Act.

Animal and Plant Health: The bill includes nearly $886 million to fund programs that protect American agriculture against animal and plant diseases. The bill eliminates funding for the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). After receiving $142 million in funding since fiscal year 2004, APHIS has yet to put into operation an effective system that would provide needed animal health and livestock market benefits. We have to ask, why should we continue pay for an ineffective system? Until USDA finishes its listening sessions and provides details as to how it will implement an effective ID system, continued investments into the current NAIS are unwarranted.

Farm Service Agency: The bill fully funds the budget request for the Farm Service Agency (FSA) salaries and expenses and IT – a $67.3 million increase. For the first time, USDA is requesting funding to continue critical investments in its information technology networks and databases to provide more effective and secure service for its customers. We have included language in the manager’s amendment to ensure we can “benchmark” USDA’s use of these and other IT funds in the bill.

Livestock Competition To assure fair competition and trade practices, safeguard farmers and ranchers, and protect consumers and members of the livestock, meat and poultry industries from unfair and deceptive practices, the bill provides $23.7 million -- 1.3 million more than last year – to strengthen enforcement and compliance.

CFTC With the continuing volatility in the futures markets, the bill provides the Administration’s request for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) – $160.6 million (or $14.6 million above 2009) – in order to better secure the markets from improper speculation.

The Committee notes that although USDA determined that the Chinese food safety system was “equivalent” to ours, it used a flawed process in making that determination and placed trade considerations above public health. The Committee intends to hold hearings and conduct a thorough review of the equivalency process in general.

Recognizing that, as well as the many problems that have been identified with the Chinese food safety system, the Committee retains language that has been carried since fiscal year 2008 that prohibits the use of funds in the bill to establish or implement a rule allowing the importation of poultry products from China.

In closing, I look forward to working with all of you today, as we work to craft responsible legislation that ensures a quick recovery and long term growth, investing in our future and reflecting our priorities as a nation. Thank you.