The U.S. House of Representatives recently approved a significant spending cut to the FY12 agriculture spending bill with discretionary funding levels 13% below the FY 11 level. The bill provides $2.1 billion for rural development programs, a 14% decrease of amounting to $338 million. The National Association of Counties (NACo) reports:
In earlier committee action on the bill, the committee report language denied authorization for the NACo-supported Regional Innovation Initiative, which would give USDA the ability to target 5 percent of several rural development programs towards locally led priority projects of rural regions.
An amendment by Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) to continue defunding inspections of horses to be sent for slaughter for human consumption, which won with narrow support in the committee, survived the full House vote. Its passage means commercial horse slaughter will remain illegal in the United States.
However, two amendments that surprisingly passed in the committee did not survive the full House vote. Both had been offered by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). One amendment would have banned payment of crop subsidies to anyone making more than $250,000 per year.
Another Flake amendment that was ruled out of order before the full vote would have shifted more than $140 million in cotton subsidies from U.S. farmers to pay for a World Trade Organization dispute with Brazil.
The focus now shifts to the Senate, where grassroots action is needed to remind senators about the importance of rural development programs.