Tuesday, February 05, 2008

USDA Releases Proposed FY 2009 Budget

Agriculture Secretary Ed Shafer released the administrations proposed FY 2009 budget for USDA. Here are some highlights:

Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative. The budget proposes $264 million
for on-going programs to support the multi-agency Food and Agriculture Defense
Initiative. The 2009 budget represents an $81 million increase for USDA to
continue improving the safety and security of America's food supply and
agriculture. Funding increases include: $14 million to enhance research related
to protecting the Nation's food supplies; $20 million for research to improve
animal vaccines, diagnostic tests, and other efforts; and $47 million to enhance
surveillance and monitoring of pest and disease threats, strengthen response
capabilities, improve animal identification, and other efforts.
In addition,
the budget includes $13 million to proceed with the design and planning for the
new Consolidated Poultry Research Facility in Athens, Georgia, as the
Department's premier center for conducting critical research on exotic and
emerging avian diseases that could have devastating effects on human and animal
Food Safety. The budget requests a record funding level of $1.1
billion for the Food Safety and Inspection Service. This funding will ensure
that the demand for inspection is met and will allow us to build on our success
in improving the safety of the food supply. USDA has been working to strengthen
the scientific basis of meat, poultry and egg products inspection so the risk of
exposure to any food contaminant will be even less than it is now. This includes
continuing the Department's effort to increase the speed with which we can
detect and respond to outbreaks of foodborne illness.
Farm Support Programs.
The Department's farm support programs receive mandatory funds from the
Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). Under current law, CCC expenditures are
projected to decline from $20.2 billion in 2005 and 2006 to $10.5 billion in
2009 under current law. The decline in net outlays since 2006 has been the
result of higher commodity prices due to the growth in ethanol production, poor
weather conditions around the world, rising market demand in Asia, and other
factors. In 2007, the Administration submitted a comprehensive set of fiscally
responsible farm bill proposals for strengthening the farm economy. The
Administration's proposals would save about $600 million in commodity program
outlays in 2009 compared to projected costs under current law.
Nutrition Assistance Participation and Funding. The budget provides resources
for increased participation and food costs in USDA's three major nutrition
assistance programs: Food Stamps, Child Nutrition and WIC, with the nutrition
assistance budget totaling $62 billion.
Food Stamp participation is
projected to increase 200,000 from an average of 27.8 million in 2008 to about
28 million in 2009. The maximum Food Stamp allotment will increase by
approximately 5 percent. The budget of $40.2 billion includes resources to fully
fund estimated Food Stamp participation. The budget also provides a $3 billion
contingency fund if actual costs exceed the estimated level.
School Lunch
participation is estimated to reach 32.1 million children each day. The budget
provides nearly $600 million in increases in Child Nutrition Programs to
accommodate program needs for a total budget of $15.3 billion.
The budget
proposes $6.3 billion to support an average of 8.6 million WIC participants per
month, up from 8.5 million in 2008.
Farm Bill Conservation Program Funding
and Program Enrollment. USDA fosters environmental stewardship through
conservation programs supported with CCC funding. The 2009 budget includes $4.6
billion to provide conservation financial and technical assistance on a
cumulative total of 260 million acres. In dollar terms, the largest of these
programs is the Conservation Reserve Program, estimated at just under $2 billion
in 2009. Funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program will be
increased to just over $1 billion in FY 2009. The budget proposes $181 million
for the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), which will enable enrollment in FY 2009
of approximately 100,000 acres and bring the total acreage enrolled in the
program to the 2002 farm bill cap of 2,275,000 acres.
The FY 2009 budget
includes $801 million in discretionary funding for ongoing conservation work.
This supports programs that provide high quality technical assistance to farmers
and ranchers and that address their most serious natural resource concerns.
Wildland Fires. The budget continues implementation of the President's
Healthy Forests Initiative to mitigate the threat of catastrophic wildfires.
Resources proposed in the budget will reduce hazardous fuels on almost 2.5
million acres of land. By the end of FY 2009, Federal agencies, including the
Department of the Interior, will have treated hazardous fuels and accomplished
landscape restoration activities on 29.9 million acres of the Nation's forests
and wooded rangelands since the beginning of FY 2001.
The budget for the
Forest Service also provides increased wildland fire resources to protect
communities and natural resources, and provides for sustainable forests and
communities through full funding of the Northwest Forest Plan.
Development. The FY 2009 budget includes nearly $15 billion for rural
development programs. This level of funding supports the Administration's policy
to maintain rental assistance for 230,000 low-income households that reside in
USDA financed multi-family housing. An estimated 43,000 rural homeownership
opportunities would be generated by $4.8 billion in loan guarantees. Funding for
USDA's other key loan, loan guarantee and grant programs includes $1.6 billion
for the water and waste disposal program, $4.1 billion for electric loans, $690
million for the telecommunication program, $298 million for the broadband access
loan program, $512 million for the community programs, and $700 million for the
business and industry program.
Research. The budget requests over $2.3
billion to support USDA research programs. For FY 2009, the budget continues to
emphasize the use of competitive grants through the National Research Initiative
and the Hatch and McIntire-Stennis programs. Consistent with this approach, $185
million of research and $44 million for building and facilities earmarks are not
funded. The budget increases funding for high priority bioenergy research aimed
at improving the efficiency of converting cellulose to biofuels. Research also
supports key initiatives for food and agriculture defense, and emerging diseases
in crops and livestock. Finally, the budget includes funding needed to complete
the 2007 Census of Agriculture.
Additional information regarding the FY 2009
budget proposal is available on the web at http://www.usda.gov/budget

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