HTML _ 96-903 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture: Appropriations for FY1997
12-Nov-1996; Ralph Chite, Jeffrey Zinn, Charles Hanrahan, Jean Jones, Sandra Osbourn

Abstract: The FY1997 agriculture appropriations act (P.L. 104-180) was signed into law on August 6, 1996. P.L. 104-180 provides $52.84 billion in FY1997 budget authority for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and related agencies, an amount which is $5.60 billion below the Administration's FY1997 request and $10.25 billion below the FY1996 enacted level. Much of the reduction in funding from FY1996 levels is attributable to an $8.9 billion reduction in the reimbursement for net realized losses of the Commodity Credit Corporation, which is the funding mechanism for USDA's commodity programs. The act also requires recipients of the new farm bill-authorized market transition payments to use eligible land for farm production, or place it in a conserving use. The amount provided for conservation programs in FY1997 is approximately $2 billion less than FY1996 and the Administration request, not because of actual funding reductions for the most part, but because provisions in the enacted 1996 farm bill converted certain conservation programs to entitlements that are no longer subject to annual appropriations. The measure also limits funding for certain new conservation programs authorized by the farm bill. P.L. 104-180 also provides $1.6 billion to support roughly $6.9 billion of foreign food aid and export programs. The act reduces overall funding for the P.L. 480 Food for Peace Program and limits spending on the Export Enhancement Program. Increased funding is made available for the Foreign Agricultural Service, and P.L. 480 commodity donations. FY1997 funding of $2.0 billion for USDA rural development programs in P.L. 104-180 is $123 million below FY1996 and $250 million below the Administration request. The Administration requested funding for several new rural initiatives, none of which is funded by the FY1997 act. The measure does potentially make more programs eligible for Fund for Rural America money. P.L. 104-180 provides $40.5 billion for USDA food and nutrition programs, $652 million more than FY1996, but $2.6 billion below the Administration request. This level does not reflect lower spending expected to result from changes to food programs made by the 1996 welfare reform law. Most of the difference from the request is related to the contingency reserve for the food stamp program. The $1.84 billion appropriated for agricultural research in P.L. 104-180 is $66 million more than FY1996 and $39 million above the Administration request. Included is a $45 million increase over FY1996 for USDA's in-house scientific research agency, and a $19 million increase for USDA to assume responsibility of the census of agriculture from the Commerce Department. P.L. 104-180 provides $574 million for USDA meat and poultry inspection as requested by the Administration. It also contains compromise language to avert a dispute over poultry labeling regulations. [read report]

Topics: Agriculture

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