AGRICULTURE, RURAL DEVELOPMENT, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2005 -- (Extensions of Remarks - July 15, 2004)
HON. RON KIND
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TUESDAY, JULY 13, 2004
The House in Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union had under consideration the bill (H.R. 4766) making appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2005, and for other purposes:
Mr. KIND. Mr. Chairman, I rise in favor of H.R. 4766. While I intend to vote for this bill, I support my friend and colleague, JOHN PETERSON's request that conferees work to increase the producer value added grants program and the rural broadband loans program. These two programs are extremely important to the future of rural areas like those found in my district of western Wisconsin.
Furthermore, I strongly urge conferees to do more to meet the funding needs of voluntary conservation programs that serve farmers and ranchers while also helping to improve soil, water and air quality, and provide critical wildlife and fish habitat.
Farmers and ranchers, especially those from regions who may not benefit from the estimated $130 billion in crop subsidies, rely on U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation assistance to provide much-needed financial support as well as meet critical environmental challenges.
Unfortunately, this bill would set a $1.01 billion limit on the environmental quality incentives program-compared to a FY2005 level of $1.2 billion set in the farm bill. Likewise, the farmland protection program is set at $112 million, $13 million less than the budget request. Lastly, the wetlands reserve program will enroll 175,000 acres, which are 25,000 less than prescribed in the farm bill.
I am pleased, however, that this bill rejects the Bush administration's proposed sharp cuts in natural resources conservation service programs. It will provide $993 million for the five NRCS conservation programs, $176 million more than the administration's request.
Secondly, I appreciate that the Appropriations Committee acted on the request made by myself and other members of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus Chronic Wasting Disease taskforce in providing $18.589 million in aid to states' fight against CWD-a fatal neurological disease found amongst our Nation's populations of wild and captive cervids. I'm particularly pleased to note $1.75 million will go directly to Wisconsin, which has been especially hard hit by this devastating disease. These federal funds are crucial to help authorities continue to monitor this deadly disease in order to avoid future outbreaks.