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Agriculture, Rural Development, Food And Drug Administration, And Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


AGRICULTURE, RURAL DEVELOPMENT, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2006 -- (House of Representatives - June 08, 2005)

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Mr. BACA. Madam Chairman, I rise in strong support of the Butterfield-Scott-Baca-Reyes amendment.

This amendment increases the funding to the 2501 Socially Disadvantaged Farmer and Rancher program by $2 million from $5.935 million to $7.935 million.

These grants are meant to provide outreach and technical assistance to encourage and assist socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to own and operate farms and ranches and participate in agricultural programs.

This assistance includes information on application and bidding procedures, farm managements, and other essential information to participate in agricultural programs.

These grants may also be awarded to Hispanic Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities that engage in outreach to minority farmers.

This program helps to mitigate a long history of unequal treatment of minority farmers and ranchers.

The USDA has already paid over $1 billion to settle discrimination lawsuits. By investing in the 2501 program, we can improve relationships between the USDA and socially disadvantaged farmers and prevent future lawsuits.

This is a small investment that could potentially save millions in the future.

I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on the Butterfield-Scott-Baca amendment.

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Mr. BACA. Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of this amendment, which I have introduced with my colleague Congressman HINOJOSA.

This amendment provides an additional $855,000 in funding for grants to Hispanic Serving Institutions, which are colleges and universities with at least 25 percent Hispanic enrollment. The funding will be offset from the Common Computing Environment, which is funded at $130 million.

This account was funded at $5.6 million last year. The appropriations act for Fiscal Year 2006 funds the account at $5.645 million, only $45,000 more than last year's level. The Baca-Hinojosa amendment will bring this funding to $6.5 million, the amount requested by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

This funding is given out on a competitive basis to Hispanic Serving Institutions for agricultural research. These grants increase the ability of colleges and universities to serve Hispanic and low-income students. In my own district, California State University San Bernardino has benefited from these funds in the past.

Forty-one percent of all USDA research project proposals from HSIs are funded, a remarkable success rate for proposal acceptance. Clearly, this is a great resource that needs to be further funded to reach its true potential.

Other important institutions that serve minority communities each receive more than double the funding of HISs. We must ensure that HSIs are funded at the same level as other similar programs.

I commend Chairman BONILLA for his effort to gradually increase funding for Hispanic Serving Institutions. However, an inequity still remains and must be corrected.

If this Congress is going to be dedicated to providing a top-quality education for all students in America, then we need to ensure that we fully fund HSIs and other institutions that reach out to our underserved communities.

I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on the Baca-Hinojosa amendment.

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