Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill
The Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies bill provides $135.8 billion in discretionary and mandatory budget authority (BA) for fiscal year 2015. Discretionary BA totals $20.9 billion and mandatory BA to fund entitlement spending amounts to $114.9 billion – largely for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The spending levels in the bill do not exceed the 302(b) allocations adopted by the Appropriations Committee, which are in aggregate within the overall spending level approved by the House in the Budget Resolution (H. Con. Res. 96) and the Bipartisan Budget Act.
The measure provides funding for food assistance programs, such as the Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Commodity Assistance Program, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Additionally, it provides funding for the FDA and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Key elements include the following:
Rural Development. The bill provides a total of $2.6 billion in mandatory and discretionary spending for rural development programs – an increase of $178 million from the administration’s FY15 request. The bill provides $1.3 billion in funding for rural water and waste program loans as well as $606 million in grants, both increases over the FY 2014 levels.
Conservation Programs. The bill provides a total of $868 million in funding for conservation programs. This represents a 4.7% increase compared to FY 2014 enacted levels and is 43.7% below the President’s request. The numbers reflected in the table above are net totals which include projected savings from Changes in Mandatory Programs (CHIMPS). The Committee greatly reduced the assumed CHIMP savings in this year’s bill and this is why the total appears significantly higher than FY 2014 and the President’s request. Funds will be used for programs that help landowners conserve and protect their land and aid communities in completing watershed modernization projects.
Food and Nutrition Service. The bill provides $7.1 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Programs for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). This represents a decrease of 1% from 2014 enacted levels and is 3% below the President’s request. The decrease in funding reflects USDA’s estimates of declining enrollments in the program and will still provide all eligible recipients with benefits.
Food and Drug Administration. The bill provides $2.6 billion for the Food and Drug Administration. This represents a decrease of 2% from the 2014 enacted level and is equal to the President’s FY 2015 request. Food and drug safety activities are both increased under the provisions of the bill.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The bill increases the CFTC’s budget by $3 million compared to FY 2014 enacted levels. The slight increase will be used to provide necessary information technology improvements. The President’s budget would increase the CFTC’s budget by $62 million, a more than 30 percent increase in this regulatory agency’s budget in one year.
Changes in Mandatory Program Spending (CHIMPS). The Agriculture Appropriations bill has for many years included several CHIMPS – or Changes in Mandatory Program Spending. CHIMPS are typically limitations on the discretionary funding used to implement mandatory programs. Through these limitations, the Appropriations Committee reduces mandatory spending in the budget year and those reductions are credited towards the appropriations bill for the purposes of determining compliance with their section 302(b) allocation under the budget resolution. This year’s bill includes CHIMPS that reduce budget authority by $778 million in FY2015, and $2.1 billion between FY2015-FY2024. This reduction is significantly lower than last year’s bill mainly due to the fact that the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act programs CHIMPS are smaller than previous years.