A Glance at the Proposed US Ag Budget

WASHINGTON, US - Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer has released details of President Bush's FY 2009 U.S. Department of Agriculture budget.
calendar icon 5 February 2008
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Ed Schafer released details of the president's agricultural budget.

The United Stated Department of Agriculture says that the aim of the bill is to advance the President's goals of building a strong agricultural economy, improving the quality of life in rural America, increasing energy security, conserving natural resources, and improving the Nation's nutrition and health.

"The President's agriculture budget supports his commitment to increase the competitiveness of agriculture, ensure the safety of the food supply, and provide nutrition and housing assistance to those most in need." said Schafer. "This budget aims to enhance those programs with a proven track record for achieving results and reflects the President's goal to keep spending under control to reduce the deficit."

Total USDA expenditures are estimated at $95 billion in FY 2009, which is approximately the same level as FY 2008. Roughly 76 percent of expenditures, or $72 billion in 2009, will be for mandatory programs that provide services required by law, which include many of the nutrition assistance, commodity, export promotion and conservation programs.

USDA's discretionary programs account for the remaining 24 percent of expenditures, or $23 billion in 2009. Discretionary programs include the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program; rural development loans and grants; research and education; soil and water conservation technical assistance; management of National Forests and domestic marketing assistance.

In January 2007, the Administration announced a comprehensive set of farm bill proposals for strengthening the farm economy and rural America. These proposals represent a reform-minded, fiscally responsible approach to supporting America's farmers and ranchers. The President's 2009 budget is based on the provisions of the 2002 farm bill and reflects the Administration's proposals for changes. Enactment of a farm bill will affect some of the estimates in the 2009 budget.

Highlights of the FY 2009 budget

Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative.

The budget proposes $264 million for on-going programs to support the multi-agency Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative. The 2009 budget represents an $81 million increase for USDA to continue improving the safety and security of America's food supply and agriculture. Funding increases include: $14 million to enhance research related to protecting the Nation's food supplies; $20 million for research to improve animal vaccines, diagnostic tests, and other efforts; and $47 million to enhance surveillance and monitoring of pest and disease threats, strengthen response capabilities, improve animal identification, and other efforts.

In addition, the budget includes $13 million to proceed with the design and planning for the new Consolidated Poultry Research Facility in Athens, Georgia, as the Department's premier center for conducting critical research on exotic and emerging avian diseases that could have devastating effects on human and animal health.

Food Safety

The budget requests a record funding level of $1.1 billion for the Food Safety and Inspection Service. This funding will ensure that the demand for inspection is met and will allow us to build on our success in improving the safety of the food supply. USDA has been working to strengthen the scientific basis of meat, poultry and egg products inspection so the risk of exposure to any food contaminant will be even less than it is now. This includes continuing the Department's effort to increase the speed with which we can detect and respond to outbreaks of foodborne illness.

Farm Support Programs

The Department's farm support programs receive mandatory funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). Under current law, CCC expenditures are projected to decline from $20.2 billion in 2005 and 2006 to $10.5 billion in 2009 under current law. The decline in net outlays since 2006 has been the result of higher commodity prices due to the growth in ethanol production, poor weather conditions around the world, rising market demand in Asia, and other factors. In 2007, the Administration submitted a comprehensive set of fiscally responsible farm bill proposals for strengthening the farm economy. The Administration's proposals would save about $600 million in commodity program outlays in 2009 compared to projected costs under current law.

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