The House Appropriations Committee approved by voice vote its fiscal year (FY) 2013 spending proposal for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. The bill estimates nearly $141 billion would be needed for mandatory spending next year and provides $19.4 billion for discretionary programs. The committee agreed to modify the 2008 farm act by approving on a voice vote an amendment by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to prohibit funding for farm program benefits to individuals or entities with adjusted gross incomes of more than $250,000. The committee also approved other 2008 Farm Act changes by extending in the bill authorization of the Grasslands Reserve Program and Wetlands Reserve Program from FY 2012 through FY 2014.
Within its funding jurisdiction, the committee proposed to fund the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program at $200 million and $34.5 million, respectively, and nearly $1.15 billion for the Public Law 480 Food for Peace international food-aid program.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service would have slightly more than $812 million in FY 2013 for conservation operations, of which $715.3 million would be available for technical assistance. Several farm bill conservation programs would be capped next year, including the Conservation Stewardship Program, at $1.025 billion; the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, at $1.4 billion; the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, at $45 million; and the Wetlands Reserve Program, at 163,250 acres. Nearly $2.5 billion would be provided for agricultural research programs, including the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
The committee would fund the Women, Infants, and Children Program at $6.92 billion and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) at almost $80 billion.
The House is expected to debate the bill next week, at which time other amendments that would change 2008 Farm Act programs could be offered.