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Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman released details of President Bush’s FY 2005 budget for U.S. Department of Agriculture programs and services.
Release No. 0055.04

President's Agriculture Budget Proposes Increased Funding to Protect the Nation's Food Supply and Conserve Natural Resources

     WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2004-  Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman today released details of President Bush’s FY 2005 budget for U.S. Department of Agriculture programs and services, which includes increased funding to help ensure a safe and wholesome food supply, safeguard America’s homeland and conserve natural resources.

   “The President’s budget is fiscally responsible and focuses resources to meet our strategic goals,” said Veneman. “The agriculture budget provides funds to protect America’s food supply and agriculture systems, improve nutrition and health, conserve and enhance our natural resources and enhance economic opportunities for agricultural producers.”

    Veneman said the budget is consistent with the Administration’s policy book, “Food and Agricultural Policy for the 21st Century.” The FY 2005 budget calls for $82 billion in spending, an increase of $4 billion, or about 5 percent, above levels for FY 2004, and represents growth of 19 percent since the Bush Administration took office. Discretionary outlays are estimated at $20.8 billion, a 3 percent change, or $720 million below the 2004 level.

Highlights of the FY 2005 budget include:

   Safeguarding America’s Homeland and Protecting the Food Supply: The President’s 2005 budget funds an interagency initiative to improve the federal government’s capability to rapidly identify and characterize a bioterriorist attack. This initiative will improve national surveillance capabilities in human health, food, agriculture and environmental monitoring. In keeping with the President’s commitment to Homeland Security, the USDA budget for FY 2005 includes $381 million for a Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative to: enhance monitoring and surveillance of pests and diseases in plants and animals; conduct research on emerging animal diseases; increase the availability of vaccines; establish a system to track select disease agents of plants; expand the unified Federal-State Diagnostic Network to all 50 states; and complete the National Centers for Animal Health in Ames, Iowa, which is the largest single item under this USDA initiative, at $178 million.

      The budget increases funding for the Food Safety and Inspection Service to a program level of $952 million, an increase of $61 million over the FY 2004 level. This represents an increase of $170 million, or 22 percent, in these food safety programs since FY 2001, when the Bush Administration came into office. The $952 million for FSIS comprises $828 million in appropriated funds and continuation of existing user fees, as well as new fees for inspection services provided beyond an approved inspection shift. Funding for FSIS will support 7,690 food safety inspectors. It will also provide specialized training for the inspection workforce, increase microbiological testing and sampling, strengthen foreign surveillance programs and increase public education efforts.

      Activities Related to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE): In addition to funding to complete the National Centers for Animal Health, which is the Department’s flagship research and diagnostic laboratory, the budget significantly increases funding for other BSE-related activities. To further enhance our systems, the budget request for FY 2005 proposes $60 million, including: $5.0 million for our Agricultural Research Service to conduct advanced research and development of BSE testing technologies; $17 million for our Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to continue collecting 40,000 samples to test for BSE; $33 million to accelerate the development of a National Animal Identification system; $1 million for the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration to enable rapid-response teams to deal with BSE-related complaints in the cattle market regarding contracts or lack of prompt payment; and $4 million for the Food Safety and Inspection Service to conduct monitoring and surveillance of compliance with the regulations for specified risk materials and advanced meat recovery.

      Unprecedented Farm Bill Conservation Funding: USDA has worked hard to implement the Farm Bill quickly and efficiently. Funds are provided in the budget to support continued implementation of the Farm Bill and represent an unprecedented investment in conservation that will have significant and long-lasting environmental benefits. Total program level funding for Farm Bill conservation programs increases from about $2.2 billion in FY 2001 to $3.9 billion in the FY 2005 budget proposal. This is an increase of $385 million, or almost 11 percent over 2004.

   Expanded programs include: $2 billion for the Conservation Reserve Program (+$76 million), $1 billion for the EQIP program (+$25 million), $295 million for the Wetlands Reserve Program to enroll an additional 200,000 acres, $125 million for the Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (+$13 million). In addition, it includes $421 million for the Grassland Reserve Program, Ground and Surface Water Conservation, the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, the new Conservation Security Program and water conservation and water quality enhancements in the Klamath Basin of Oregon and California.       Record Funding for a Food and Nutrition Safety Net: The FY 2005 budget also reflects the Bush Administration’s continued commitment to nutrition and fighting hunger by including a record of $47.9 billion for domestic food assistance programs, a $2.5 billion increase over FY 2004. The food and nutrition budget supports: an estimated 24.9 million Food Stamp participants; a record level of 7.9 million low-income, nutritionally at risk, WIC participants; and an average of 29 million school children each day in the School Lunch program.

   The budget also includes a $3 billion contingency reserve for Food Stamps, and a $125 million contingency reserve for WIC, to be available to cover unanticipated increases in participation in these programs.

    Expanding Agricultural Trade and Supporting International Food Assistance Programs: One of the most important ways to expand opportunities for American agriculture is through trade, by maintaining and opening markets for U.S. products. The FY 2005 budget continues a strong commitment to export promotion and foreign market development efforts by providing a program level of $6.6 billion for the Department’s international programs. Since the Bush Administration took office, these programs have experienced significant growth, increasing by $1.4 billion, or 27 percent, since FY 2001. Funding for USDA’s market development programs, including the Market Access and Cooperator Programs are maintained at current-year levels. A program level of $4.5 billion is provided for Commodity Credit Corporation export credit guarantee activities.

   At the same time, the efficiency and productivity of American farmers has allowed the United States to lead the world in global food aid. More than $1.5 billion is requested for U.S. foreign food-assistance activities, including $75 million for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, a 50 percent increase over FY 2004.

   Increasing Housing Opportunities and Investment in Rural America: The budget provides funding to increase rural homeownership and establish the infrastructure to enhance economic opportunities and the quality of life in rural America. The Administration proposes spending $11.6 billion for rural development programs.

   The budget proposes $3.8 billion for direct and guaranteed Section 502 single family housing loans. The President’s budget will provide nearly 43,000 new homeownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income families in rural areas. In addition, $1.4 billion is requested for the water and waste disposal program, which will provide about 650,000 rural families with new or improved water and waste disposal facilities. The budget proposes $331 million for broadband loans and loan guarantees to rural telecommunications in FY 2005 building upon a $1.6 billion program developed over the past several years.

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