At almost the 11th hour, a budget compromise last Friday averted a threatened shutdown of federal government functions. Even though the shutdown was averted, it had some impact. For example, the first Senate ag committee field hearing on the 2012 Farm Bill to be held in Michigan last Saturday was cancelled.
When the dust settled, it looks like Congress agreed on cuts of about $38.5 billion from the fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget which has been in effect, more or less, since last October 1. President Obama wanted to see cuts in the range of $6.5 billion. Fiscal conservatives wanted to see cuts of as much as $60 billion. We need to keep in mind that the $38.5 billion in cuts agreed upon last week may not stand. Today, the House is expected to take action on the compromise proposal, and the Senate is expected to take action tomorrow.
It appears that agriculture fared fairly well in the compromise package commonly called a continuing resolution (CR). According to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, agriculture would have discretionary funding under the CR of $19.965 billion. That represents a rise of $1.935 billion (10 percent) over HR 1, the House appropriations committee budget recommendation) but is a drop of $3.17 billion (-14 percent) from the FY 2010 actual funding level.
The CR provides $461 million for farm loan programs, as compared to $462 million in FY 2010.
According to Phil Brasher with the Des Moines Register, farm subsidies largely were spared from cuts. Instead, it seems conservation programs and USDA's nutrition assistance programs took the hits. Cuts in stewardship spending included $119 million from Wetlands Reserve, $80 million from EQIP (the Environmental Quality Incentives Program), and $39 million from the Conservation Stewardship Program. The CR provides $6.748 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) as compared to $7.252 billion in FY 2010.
Dairy programs were cut by $350 million compared to the FY 2010 budget. That was more than the $290 million spent on the Dairy Economic Loss Assistance Program (DELAP) which was in the FY 2010 budget.
The CR provides $2.353 billion for the National Institute on Food and Agriculture (NIFA), a USDA research funding group, and the Agricultural Research Service, as compared to $2.523 billion in FY 2010 (-7 percent) and $2.192 in the original House proposal (+7 percent).
The Food Safety and Inspection Service would take a slight cut being funded at $1.009 billion, which would be just 1 percent less than the FY 2010 budget of $1.019 billion.
Renewable energy programs were cut by $34 million compared to the FY 2010 budget.