Resolved: That the United States should substantially change its federal agricultural policy.
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|Source: Feedstuffs, Feb 8, 1999 v71 i6 p5(2).
Title: Trade, food safety highlight 2000 agriculture budget.
Full Text COPYRIGHT 1999 Rural Press Limited
WASHINGTON, D.C. - President Bill Clinton's proposed 2000 budget for agriculture includes increases in most trade development programs and continued development of modernized meat and poultry inspection programs for both domestic plants and imported products.
On the books at least, proposed overall spending for Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) programs is down nearly $1.5 billion, or 37%, from this year's level, owing to extraordinary recent ad hoc spending and current costs of food aid and export credit programs used to assist foreign nations suffering economic turmoil. For example, total P.L. 480 (Food for Peace) spending for fiscal 1999 is projected at $1.75 billion, or nearly double the 1998 level.
In the category of foreign food assistance and donations, requests for 2000 total $1.08 billion, down nearly $200 million from 1998 spending and only about a third of the estimated 1999 spending.
However, the secretary of agriculture can use executive authority to spend additional Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) in the course of the fiscal year for those purposes.
When compared with 1998 expenditures, FAS requested spending for 2000 is up by more than $688 million, or 40%. Spending for export credit guarantees and interest subsidies is requested at $473 million, nearly double the 1998 level and projected to cover $4.5 billion in export loans.
For the Export Enhancement Program (EEP), proposed is $494 million, down slightly from $550 million "estimated" for this year.
However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has avoided spending EEP funds in recent years (about $1 million last year).
FAS would also substantially increase extension of "supplier credit guarantees" to foreign food importers. The request is $145 million for the current years and again in 2000, compared with just $18 million in 1998. These guarantees are provided directly to foreign importers on a short-term basis to purchase and re-sell U.S. products.
USDA will ask Congress for agreement to take up to $27.5 million for the Foreign Market Development program out of CCC accounts rather than list the program as a line item in the budget That amount is the same as last year's level.
USDA officials also said that, owing in part to foreign exchange rates and costs of maintaining foreign offices, FAS may have to modestly reduce the number of agricultural attaches in foreign countries.
In the area of food safety, USDA's Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) requested an increase of $36 million in spending to continue its modernization of meat and poultry inspection and extension of inspections from the slaughter plant to retail outlets. The budget includes $10.8 million to retrain and relocate 388 current inspectors and hire 250 new "consumer safety officers," plus additional funds for rood safety research, improved coordination of inspections and laboratory testing with state agencies and other purposes.
The Food & Drug Administration, also part of President Clinton's "Food Safety initiative," has asked for a $79 million increase to continue improvements to food safety monitoring, including a $15.7 million seafood inspection program.
FSIS and FDA are again proposing to cover most of the costs of their meat, poultry and seafood inspection programs with new user fees. FSIS would collect $504 million in new fees: FDA, $195 million. Congress has consistently rejected similar proposals in past years.