HTML _ 98-201 - Appropriations for FY1999: USDA and Related Agencies
21-Dec-1998; Ralph Chite, Coordinator; 22 p.

Abstract: The conference agreement on the FY1999 omnibus appropriations bill (P.L. 105-277/H.R. 4328) was signed into law on October 21, 1998. The measure contains $55.9 billion in regular FY1999 appropriations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and related agencies and $5.9 billion in emergency disaster and economic assistance for agriculture, for a total of $61.8 billion. The House and Senate earlier had approved a separate conference agreement for FY1999 USDA appropriations (H.R. 4101), but the President vetoed the measure because its emergency provisions did not authorize an increase in the loan rates, or farm price guarantees, for growers of certain crops. Republican leadership strongly opposed any increases in the loan rates, but instead agreed to increase the total level of direct farm assistance from the $4.2 billion provided in the vetoed version of H.R. 4101, to $5.9 billion in P.L. 105-277. A budget emergency was declared for this amount, which by definition requires no budgetary offsets for the new spending. The $5.9 billion in emergency funding includes: $3.057 billion in ¨market loss¨ payments, of which $2.857 billion is for grain and cotton farmers and $200 million for dairy farmers; $1.5 billion for 1998 crop loss payments; $875 million for farmers affected by multiple years of disasters; $200 million in livestock feed assistance; and $31 million to cover the cost of making or guaranteeing $440 million in additional farm operating loans. The $55.9 billion in regular USDA and related agencies appropriations for FY1999 in P.L. 105-277 is about equal to the House-passed level (H.R. 4101), $1.2 billion below the Senate-passed level (S. 2159), and $2.1 billion below the Administration request. Of this amount, $42.25 billion is for mandatory programs and $13.69 billion for discretionary spending. Even excluding the additional emergency aid spending, total budget authority is significantly higher than the $49.5 billion appropriated in FY1998, mainly because of a change in the formula for determining how much is required to reimburse the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) for its net realized losses. In order to stay within the discretionary spending allocation for the bill, P.L. 105-277 either limits or eliminates FY1999 funding for several mandatory programs. It prohibits the spending of any of the $60 million authorized for FY1999 for the Fund for Rural America, and reduces spending for commodities in the Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP) by $10 million. The law also concurs with a House provision to prohibit the FY1999 spending ($120 million) for a new mandatory agricultural research program; restrict the amount of acreage that can be enrolled in the Wetlands Reserve Program; and limit payments in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). P.L. 105-277 also extends the statutory deadline for federal milk marketing order reform from April 4 to October 9, 1999; waives the statute of limitations on certain civil rights complaints against USDA; modifies eligibility for farm loans; and makes additional changes to trade sanction policy. A House provision to prohibit FDA from approving the abortion drug RU-486 was deleted in conference on H.R. 4101, after the President threatened a veto if the provision was included. [read report]

Topics: Agriculture

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