Administration Opposes House Ag Spending Measure

The Office of Management and Budget has released the statement of Administration policy on H.R. 2410 - the ag spending measure for fiscal year 2014. The Administration is strongly opposed to the measure.

According to the statement - the bill severely undermines key investments in financial oversight in a manner that would cripple Wall Street reform and impede implementation of statutorily-mandated financial regulations. It also - the statement continues - imposes harmful cuts in rural economic development, renewable energy development, nutrition programs, food safety, agricultural research and international food aid.

The statement notes investing in these areas is critical to the nation's economic growth, security and global competitiveness. As such - if the President were presented with the bill - his senior advisors would recommend he veto the bill.

The following are the Administration's views on some specific areas of the Committee's version of the bill:

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

International Food Aid Reform - The Administration strongly objects to the funding level provided in the Committee bill for P.L. 480 Title II. The bill fails to incorporate any of the efficiencies sought in the President's food aid reform request, and instead cuts P.L. 480 Title II funding by over 20 percent compared to the Budget request, with the reduction coming entirely out of emergency food aid. By cutting emergency food aid funding and excluding the proposed changes to allow more efficient food aid, the bill would delay food aid to starving people up to 14 weeks and would preclude as many as 12 million people from receiving life-saving assistance than under the Administration's proposal.

Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) - The Administration opposes the funding level for FSIS. In addition to a nearly $10 million reduction from the President's Budget request, the Committee bill forces FSIS to absorb $9 million in rental costs by not providing the necessary funding. These cuts will significantly impact USDA's ability to adequately inspect food processing plants and prevent foodborne diseases from contaminating America's meat, poultry, and egg product supply. Over 80 percent of FSIS's employees are frontline inspectors and the Committee's recommendation may require the agency to furlough. Decreased FSIS inspections will disrupt industry production.

Research Facilities - The Administration urges the House to include the requested $155 million to fully fund a high priority poultry biosafety and laboratory facility. State-of-the-art research facilities to replace USDA's aging laboratory infrastructure are key to the Department's ability to meet research challenges of the 21st Century.

Research Grants - The Administration objects to the level of funding provided for the Agricultural Food and Research Initiative (AFRI) at $291 million, which is a reduction of approximately 24 percent from the FY 2014 Budget request. The Administration urges the Congress to fully fund the request for competitive peer-reviewed research grants through AFRI.

Clean and Renewable Energy - The Administration urges the Congress to include the President's FY 2014 Budget request to move the Rural Electric Loan Program away from fossil fuels and encourage the construction, acquisition, or improvement of renewable energy plants in rural America. In addition, the Administration urges the House to fund the Rural Energy for America Program at the level requested in the Budget.

Ban on Horse Slaughter - The Administration appreciates reinstatement of the Federal ban on horse slaughter and looks forward to working with the Congress to complete work on this important legislation.

Department of Health and Human Services

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - The Administration strongly supports robust funding for FDA to continue implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act and to modernize regulatory science to support medical product innovation. The Administration is concerned that the Committee bill provides $4.3 billion in total resources for FDA, which is $342 million below the President's request, and does not include new proposed user fees. The Administration urges the Congress to enact new user fees proposed in the FY 2014 Budget, which would provide significant additional resources to enhance FDA regulatory capacity, as well as provide benefits to industry, advance the Nation's food safety system, and continue implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act. While the Administration appreciates the funding to continue the development of the FDA Life Sciences/Biodefense laboratory in White Oak, Maryland, the overall reductions in budget authority will limit FDA's ability to oversee the safety and quality of Nation's food and medical products and threaten the agency's ability to improve and maintain FDA's other critical facilities.

Other Agencies

Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) - The Administration strongly opposes the funding level of $195 million for CFTC, which is $120 million below the President's FY 2014 Budget request. The reduced funding level will seriously impede CFTC's implementation of critical Wall Street reforms to increase market transparency and integrity, reduce risks to the economy and protect consumers, and will unacceptably increase the risk of fraud and manipulation in the $30 trillion futures and $250 trillion swaps markets.

GIPSA Marketing Rule

The Administration strongly opposes a provision in the Committee bill that effectively prevents USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration from further implementing the remaining portions of a rule on conduct violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921. This provision would rescind many components of the rule that was finalized in December 2011 preventing its full implementation, which is needed to clarify conditions for industry compliance with the Packers and Stockyards Act and provide for a fairer marketplace.

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