Abstract: On November 20, 2004, the House and Senate approved the conference agreement on the FY2005 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 4818, H.Rept. 108-792), which combined nine annual appropriations bills into one measure. The President signed H.R. 4818 into law (P.L. 108-447) on December 8, 2004. Division A of the act provides the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Related Agencies with $85.28 billion in budget authority for FY2005, which is $1.3 billion below FY2004 and $2.0-$2.3 billion above the FY2005 House-passed (H.R. 4766) and Senatereported (S. 2803) bills, and the Administration?s FY2005 request.
An estimated $66.4 billion, or nearly 80%, of the total FY2005 spending in Division A is for mandatory USDA programs, primarily farm commodity support programs and various nutrition programs. The mandatory total for FY2005 is $1.45 billion below FY2004, mainly because improved farm commodity prices have required reduced spending for farm commodity support authorized by the 2002 farm bill. FY2005 mandatory spending is approximately $2 billion above the recommendations of the House, Senate, and the Administration, mainly because of a revision in nutrition program funding needs subsequent to these recommendations.
For all discretionary programs, USDA and related agencies receive $16.98 billion for FY2005, before taking into account the effect of a 0.8% across-the-board rescission on all discretionary accounts required by P.L. 108-447. Discretionary spending is the category over which appropriators have direct control in annual spending bills. The pre-rescission discretionary total is about $140 million above the enacted FY2004 level and the FY2005 House level, $210 million above the Senate level, and $413 million above the Administration request. Once it is applied, the rescission likely will bring FY2005 spending close to the FY2004 and House level of $16.84 billion.
In order to meet an FY2005 discretionary allocation that was close to the FY2004 enacted level, appropriators, as in past years, placed limitations on authorized levels of spending in the 2002 farm bill for various mandatory conservation, rural development, and research programs. P.L. 108-447 reduced authorized FY2005 mandatory spending levels for these programs by a total of about $1.2 billion, and applied those savings toward meeting the discretionary allocation.
Among the provisions that were deleted by conferees in the final law were a Senate provision that would have relaxed licensing rules for businesses seeking to travel to Cuba to promote and sell agricultural products; and a House provision that would have prohibited FDA from enforcing the current law that bans importation of prescriptions drugs by parties other than drug companies.
Topics: Federal Agencies, Agriculture