National Editor Tom KarstSeems that the Obama Administration isn't sold on the House agriculture appropriations bill. Check out this SAP (Statement of Administration Policy) on the legislation, which has emerged from committee but has not been approved by the full House.
From that document, some highlights...
The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 5973, making appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013.
In addition to the concern outlined above, the Administration strongly opposes the bill as reported by the Committee. The bill severely undermines key investments in financial oversight in a manner that would cripple Wall Street reform. It also imposes harmful cuts in rural economic development, renewable energy development, nutrition programs, food safety, and international food aid. Investing in these areas is critical to the Nation's economic growth, security, and global competitiveness. The Administration also strongly objects to the inclusion of any ideological and political provisions that are beyond the scope of funding legislation.
If the President were presented with H.R. 5973, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.
The Administration would like to take this opportunity to share additional views regarding the Committee's version of the bill.
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The Administration is concerned with the funding level for WIC in the bill and encourages the House to provide the $7 billion level requested in the FY 2013 Budget. WIC program costs are highly variable. The Committee's low funding level creates a risk that the contingency reserve, which is normally used to cover unexpected changes in food prices or participation, would be needed to cover anticipated costs, thus threatening the program's ability to manage shortfalls.
Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). The Administration urges the House to fund CSFP at the FY 2013 Budget request. The Committee bill level could result in as many as 55,000 participants – the majority of whom are vulnerable seniors – losing eligibility. CSFP provides a supplementary food package with the nutrients typically lacking in the diets of its target population.
Program Cuts, Consolidations, and Savings. The Administration urges the House to accept additional cuts, consolidations, and savings proposed in the FY 2013 Budget for USDA, including an estimated $75 million in savings from blocking spending of the Good Performance Rebate and $15 million in savings from termination of the Watershed Rehabilitation Program.
Department of Health and Human Services
Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Administration strongly supports robust funding for FDA to continue implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, improve oversight of imports, and invest in the development of medical products, including medical countermeasures.
The Administration requested $4.5 billion in total resources for FDA and the bill provides $3.8 billion, does not include new proposed user fees, and rescinds previous appropriations. The Administration urges the House to adopt the new user fees proposed in the FY 2013 Budget and restore FDA's budget authority.
These new user fees, targeted in areas where the industry derives a direct benefit from FDA's regulatory oversight, provide additional resources that are essential to support FDA's critical mission to make food and medical products safer, and increase access to safe and effective generic drugs and biologics.
The reductions in budget authority also jeopardize FDA's ability to complete its Life Sciences/Biodefense laboratory, an integral part of FDA's regulatory science capacity that will support national and global preparedness for annual and pandemic influenza and other emerging threats.
The Administration strongly opposes problematic policy and language riders that have no place in funding legislation, including, but not limited to, the following provisions in this bill:
GIPSA Marketing Rule. Section 719 of the bill effectively prevents USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration from further implementing the remaining portions of a rule on conduct violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921.
The provision's proposal to rescind many components of the rule that was finalized in December 2011, would prevent full implementation of this rule, which is needed to clarify conditions for industry compliance with the Packers and Stockyards Act and provide for a fairer marketplace.
Changes to the WIC Food Benefit. Section 743 would prohibit the exclusion of certain foods from the WIC food package, which undermines the science-based approach used in the program. WIC provides supplemental foods that nutrition research has found to be critical for healthy child development that are otherwise lacking in the diets of pregnant women, infants, and children.
The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress as the FY 2013 appropriations process moves forward.
TK: So while work on the farm bill was put off in the House until appropriations are finished, perhaps it won't be so easy to put a wrap on fy 2013 ag appropriations. Meanwhile, deeper cuts in the farm bill on the House side could dim some of the the good work industry leaders did with the Senate version of the farm bill. We wait for the cold hard numbers...