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Agriculture, Rural Development, Food And Drug Administration, And Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 - Continued

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, as I stated at the outset of this bill, it does reflect an increase in spending over the previous year. But let's be clear, 90 percent of the discretionary increase is for WIC, food and drug safety, humanitarian food assistance, and rural rental housing. These four items are among the most important things that government does.

To put it a little more in context, the largest overall increases in this bill are not in discretionary programs at all. The largest single increase in the bill is for nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. That program, and programs combined with other programs, are together funded at $9.1 billion higher than last year. These are mandatory programs that reflect the state of our economy and serve as a very basic human safety net.

Other mandatory increases involve farm support and crop insurance programs and funding $3.4 billion higher than last year. These programs operate as they are authorized, and this spending is what is required to pay farmers and ranchers the benefits they are entitled to receive under the law.

The Senator is correct that the spending in this bill is higher than last year. But much of that increase is attributable to mandatory programs that
do not change through an appropriations bill. With regard to overall spending, Congress has spoken on that question through the budget resolution and the allocations that are made to each subcommittee for discretionary spending. This bill is about how we apportion that discretionary spending to best serve the American people and the people throughout the world. This bill has a proper priority.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, I thank my friend from Iowa for his comments. The impacts of emerging animal diseases are felt in many far-ranging sectors of the economy and human health. The impact of threats to the health of livestock can have a devastating impact on producers. Misleading information about an emerging disease can also spread across the country rapidly. This underscores the importance of rapid detection and diagnosis of emerging animal diseases.

I am pleased to work with you to include in the final version of the fiscal year 2010 agriculture spending bill $3.4 million in additional resources, above the baseline, to continue NADC's role as one of the preeminent research institutions on emerging animal diseases. This is intended to be additional funding that will be part of the base funding for NADC in future years.

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Mr. KOHL. I would like to enter into a colloquy with my colleague from New York.

Mrs. GILLIBRAND. I thank the Chairman for entering into a colloquy with me and for his hard work on this bill. I wanted to quickly discuss the need to add New York to the list of States threatened by the emerald ash borer--an invasive insect that has destroyed over 50 million ash trees in the U.S. to date.

Originally found in Michigan, the emerald ash borer has been steadily
making its way eastward and is now threatening to decimate the 900 million ash trees across New York State. This invasive species threatens a billion dollar timber industry that supplies furniture makers, hardware stores, and the wood for Louisville Slugger baseball bats.

The emerald ash borer larvae burrow through trees, preventing them from receiving essential nutrients and water, eventually causing the tree to die. Thousands of traps have been set in Cattaraugus and Chautauqua Counties, but more funding will be needed to stop the spread and ensure that New York's forests are not forever altered.

The current committee report lists 12 States which are affected by this invasive pest. I would ask that New York be added to that list during conference.

Mr. KOHL. I would like to thank my colleague for bringing this to my attention and I will certainly address this issue during conference.

Mrs. GILLIBRAND. I thank the Chairman for his help and leadership.

FOOD AND AGRICULTURE POLICY INSTITUTE

Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, I would like to raise an issue that has been brought to my attention by the Senator from Georgia, Mr. Isakson. The Senator was mistakenly credited with having requested funding for the Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute in Senate Report 111-39. I want to assure him that this will be corrected during the conference negotiations on the Agriculture appropriations bill.

Mr. KOHL. I thank Senator Brownback for raising this issue. I, too, want Senator Isakson to know that this will be corrected during conference.

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