On May 24, the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee passed their fiscal year 2012 spending bill that would make significant cuts in both discretionary and mandatory agricultural program spending. The bill would reduce total discretionary agriculture funding by $2.6 billion (13.4% below FY11) and includes significant "chimps" (changes in mandatory program spending) in order to keep total year-to-year agriculture outlays at essentially the same level, while accommodating a $6 billion increase in food stamp funding over FY11.
On the discretionary side, some of the significant spending cuts include: ag research by $354 million; Agriculture & Food Research Initiative by $39.47 million; Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service by $73 million; conservation operations by $99 million; and rural development by $338 million.
On the mandatory spending side, the bill reduced farm bill authorized funding levels for several conservation and energy title programs. The Environmental Quality Incentive Program was funded at $1.4 billion, an increase over FY11, but $350 million below the farm bill level. The Conservation Stewardship Program received $634 million, $15 million below FY11 and $171 million below the farm bill level. The bill limits funding for the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels in FY12 to $55 million, which is $50 million below the farm bill authorized level.
Going forward, the American Soybean Association (ASA) will focus on the Senate Agricultural Appropriations bill that will be developed, as well as the potential for a comprehensive budget and debt limit agreement. ASA recognizes the need to significantly reduce spending and address federal deficits and the unsustainable national debt.
To ensure agricultural spending is not cut disproportionately, ASA continues to urge Congress and the administration to reach a comprehensive agreement on a 10-year budget plan that includes reductions in all federal spending and entitlement programs. This is necessary to ensure that any reductions to ag spending programs are made in the context of a long-term plan that truly achieves the necessary reductions in our national debt. ASA will continue to communicate these messages to Congress, and urges its state affiliates to continue to communicate this message to their Congressional delegations, as well.