House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rep. Norm Dicks made the following comments after release of the FY2013 Agriculture bill text:
"After reneging on the bipartisan Budget Control Act, Republican leadership decided to reserve the very worst austerity for the last few discretionary appropriations bills. We are now beginning to see the harsh details of Ryan Budget austerity for domestic priorities in FY2013.
"As we are witnessing in Europe, austerity is not working and shouldn't be replicated here. Unfortunately, House Republicans still haven't retracted from their contradictory 'cut and grow' economic agenda, though leading economists and even Mitt Romney has stated that drastic austerity in the near term would undermine our fragile economic recovery.
"The Agriculture bill does not have an adequate allocation and is $1.38 billion below the Senate, which does not include CFTC funding in the Agriculture bill; underfunding financial reform, Food and Drug Administration and nutrition programs while also containing several special-interest policy riders.
"Like the Financial Services Appropriations bill also released today, this Agriculture bill emphasizes a naive 'self-regulatory' approach with Wall Street. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is cut 41% below the President's request and represents another attempt by Republican leadership to underfund financial reform efforts in the wake of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Recent press stories have reported that CFTC would be using its new authority under the Dodd-Frank Act for the very first time to investigate the record trading loss at JPMorgan. This investigation is a timely example of why the law was necessary and why the agency should be fully funded.
"In addition to cutting funding for FDA in 2013, the Republican bill takes away $48 million in funding provided previously for the agency. This rescission could come from a range of sources including prescription drug, medical device or tobacco user fees; or salaries and expenses of FDA employees. This is a very bad precedent.
"Last year, Republicans made numerous attempts to cut nutrition programs which would have left low-income women, children and the elderly to fend for themselves during a harsh recession. Fortunately, Democrats were able to beat back these attempts in budget negotiations, making sure those who were eligible could still get the help they needed. This bill cuts the Commodity Supplemental Food Program $14 million below the budget request and would mean that 43,000, participants, most of them elderly, would not receive needed food packages. Needless to say, Democrats will once again defend nutrition programs from irresponsible cuts.
"The Rural Water and Wastewater direct loan program is also underfunded -- a program that helps rural communities build safe drinking water and sewage infrastructure. By cutting so far below the budget request, 700 loans assisting 2,700,000 rural residents would not be distributed.
"As I've said many times, I will continue to work with my good friend, Chairman Rogers, in returning the committee to regular order and passing this year's appropriations bills. However, I will continue to urge my Republican colleagues to abandon short-sighted budgeting and controversial legislating on appropriations bills."
Below is a brief summary of funding levels in the FY2013 Agriculture bill
Total Allocation: $19.405 billion | -$365 million below the FY2012 enacted level | -$1.7 billion below the FY2013 budget request.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC): The bill provides $180.4 million total, -$25 million below the FY2012 enacted level and -$128 million (41%) below the President's request.
Food & Drug Administration (FDA): The bill provides $2.481 billion total, -$16 million below the FY2012 enacted level and -$31 million below the President's request. The FDA oversees 80% of the nation's food supply, including foods from more than 300,000 facilities in 200 countries. This funding level puts at risk the agency's ability to oversee the safety of our food, drugs and medical devices. In addition, the bill rescinds $47.7 million in funding from FDA which could come from a range of sources including prescription drug, medical device, or tobacco user fees; or salaries and expenses of FDA employees responsible for public safety.
Commodity Supplemental Food Program: The bill provides $173 million total, -$3.5 million below the FY2012 enacted level and -$14 million below the President's request.
Women Infants & Children Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC): The bill provides $6.922 billion total, -$119 million below the President's request.
Rural Water and Wastewater Direct Loan Program: The bill provides $731 million total, -$269 million below the President's request. This program provides loan to rural residents to improve access to safe and sanitary water and wastewater infrastructure.
Food for Peace: The bill provides $1.150 billion total, -$316 million below the FY2012 enacted level and -$250 million below the President's request.
Businesses and Industry Guaranteed Loans: The bill provides a loan level of $661 million, -$162 million below the FY2012 enacted level and -$160 million below the President's request.
Genetically Modified Crops: Permits the cultivation of genetically modified crops to continue while litigation over the regulatory status of the crops is pending.
Small Livestock Producers: The bill blocks two recently finalized USDA rules that protect the economic wellbeing of small livestock producers.