PDF _ RL32504 - Funding Plant and Animal Health Emergencies: Transfers from the Commodity Credit Corporation
19-Oct-2005; Jim Monke; 19 p.

Update: December 5, 2005

Previously Released Reports:

/NLE/CRSreports/04jul/RL32504.pdf

Abstract: The Secretary of Agriculture has the authority to transfer funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for emergency control programs. The Secretary's use of this authority has increased in recent years, and has become an issue within government concerning the method for funding plant and animal health programs.

The authority to transfer money for plant and animal health emergencies is found both in annual appropriations acts and in authorizing statutes. Discretion rests with the Secretary of Agriculture, who is subject to limited review when making transfers.

The definition and use of the word ¨emergency¨ have caused particular concern. Some parties interpret emergency to include only the initial occurrence of an outbreak. Others interpret emergency to include any outbreak that ?threatens agricultural production? for which officials deem appropriations insufficient.

CCC transfers represent a significant source of funding for APHIS activities. Nearly all CCC to APHIS transfers go to the pest and disease management function. Such CCC transfers rose from $31 million in FY1998 to a high of $378 million in FY2003, an increase of 1,100% in six years, before declining to $168 million in FY2005. From FY1998 to FY2005, CCC transfers averaged $211 million annually, almost 10 times as much as over the FY1990-FY1998 period.

In recent years, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has been concerned over the frequent use of CCC transfers for the eradication of plant and animal pests and diseases, which OMB has said should be funded through regular appropriations after the initial outbreak. However, congressional appropriations committees have consistently reiterated that the Secretary should use the authority to transfer CCC funds, and USDA has continued its past practice of using the funds.

Analysis of CCC transfers for plant and animal health emergencies from FY1998 to FY2005 leads to several observations. First, the number and value of CCC transfers rose substantially from FY1998 to FY2003. Second, several eradication programs were short-term and funded only by CCC transfers, while other programs consistently have received CCC transfers in addition to appropriations. Finally, some programs receive large, initial CCC transfers followed by progressively smaller transfers as appropriations gradually take their place.

Examples of pest and disease programs receiving CCC transfers in recent years include Asian longhorned beetle, avian influenza, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (?mad cow disease?), citrus canker, emerald ash borer, glassy-winged sharpshooter, plum pox, and sudden oak death.

This report will be updated if significant developments ensue. [read report]

Topics: Agriculture

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