HTML _ RL30501 - Appropriations for FY2001: U.S. Department of Agriculture and Related Agencies
9-Nov-2000; Ralph M. Chite, Coordinator; 19 p.

Abstract: On October 28, 2000, the President signed into law the FY2001 appropriations act (P.L. 106-387/H.R. 4461) for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and related agencies. The full House and Senate had approved the conference agreement on H.R. 4461 on October 11th and 18th, respectively. The act contains $74.8 billion in regular appropriations for programs funded by the annual appropriations bill and $3.65 billion in FY2001 emergency supplemental spending, primarily to compensate farmers for the financial effects of low farm commodity price and natural disasters. Of the $74.8 billion in regular appropriations contained in P.L. 106-387, $15.0 billion is for discretionary programs, which is above both the House and Senate-passed levels of $14.5 billion and $14.85 billion, respectively, but below the Administration request for $15.5 billion. Regular FY2001 funding for USDA mandatory programs (such as food stamps and certain farm commodity support programs) is $59.8 billion in the FY2001 act, about $1 billion below the House- and Senate-passed levels, mainly because of a recent re-estimation of food stamp spending. Much of the CBO-estimated $3.65 billion in emergency supplemental assistance provided in P.L. 106-387 is for direct payments to farmers. This includes an estimated $1.6 billion in disaster payments for year 2000 crop losses; $490 million in emergency livestock assistance; and direct payments to dairy farmers in compensation for low farm milk prices, among many other provisions. Actual emergency spending under the act could be higher than $3.65 billion since the crop disaster payments and the market loss payments for dairy farmers authorized by the act are based on a payment formula rather than a fixed appropriation. Conference committee action on H.R. 4461 was delayed for several weeks because of controversy over three provisions - the exemption of food and medicine exports from current U.S. sanctions against Cuba; the relaxation of restrictions on the reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada and Mexico; and the amount of emergency assistance to be provided to farmers and rural areas. Conferees adopted language to allow food and medical sales to Cuba, but prohibit any private or public financing of such exports by U.S. banks or federal, state or local governments. Conferees also adopted a provision to allow the importation of prescription drugs, but with several restrictions. The Administration had expressed its displeasure with the sanctions and drug reimportation provisions saying that they are both too restrictive, but did not issue a veto threat. Among the many other provisions in P.L. 106-387 are an increase in the payment limit for recipients of loan deficiency payments; continued prohibitions or limitations on mandatory spending on certain agricultural research, conservation and rural programs; an earmark of duties collected on certain unfair trade practices to assist those industries affected by the trade practice; increased funding for food safety activities; an easing of restrictions on food stamp recipients with respect to housing and automobile allowances; and emergency funding of $200 million for rural economic assistance and improvements to infrastructures in rural areas. [read report]

Topics: Agriculture, Federal Agencies

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