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Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2004

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. MCCAIN. Mr. President, the agriculture appropriations bill funds several important programs at the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, and other domestic food services provided through the Department of Health and Human Services. These funding programs are critically important to our Nation's farmers, families, and children.

Considering the importance of this bill, and at this critical time, I am once again greatly disappointed to report the amount of flagrant porkbarrel spending in this bill. This year's agriculture spending bill includes nearly $300 million in questionable earmarks. Despite the obvious need to eliminate the excessive special interest earmarks in the agriculture appropriations bill, the appropriators tacked on 395 of the usual garden-variety, special interest earmarks. Sadly, it appears that the porkbarrel "business as usual" attitude reigns once again.

Let's take a look at some of the porkbarrel projects in this year's agriculture appropriations bill:

An increase of $300,000 over the fiscal year 2003 level for research on alternative swine research;

An increase of $1.4 million over the fiscal year 03 level for dairy forage research in Madison, WI;

An increase of $1 million for research on taramix control using China beetles in Reno, NV;

A $100,000 increase for the development of commercially approved vaccines for catfish in Auburn, IL;

An increase of $450,000 over the fiscal year 03 level for a laboratory in Parlier, CA, to study the Glassy-winged sharpshooter and Pierce's disease;

A $150,000 increase to study grape genetics in Geneva, NY;

An additional $300,000 for potato storage research in Madison, WI;

An additional $200,000 for research on seafood waste at the University of Alaska;

An additional $300,000 for the U.S. Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, SC;

An unrequested earmark of $631,000 for alternative salmon products in Alaska;

An earmark of $358,000 for alternative tobacco uses in Maryland;

An earmark of $442,000 for apple fire blight in Michigan and New York;

An earmark of $278,000 for asparagus technology and production in the State of Washington;

An earmark of $200,000 for berry research in Alaska;

$600,000 for cool season legume research in Idaho, Washington and North Dakota;

$234,000 for cranberry and blueberry disease and breeding studies in New Jersey;

A whopping $2 million for exotic pet diseases in California;

$844,000 for soybean research in Illinois;

$596,000 for peanut research in Alabama;

$502,000 for wheat sawfly research in Montana;

$450,000 for agricultural-based industrial lubricants in Iowa;

$690,000 for agriculture waste utilization in WV—pretty fancy term for fertilizer;

$150,000 for salmon quality standards in Alaska;

$250,000 for the National Wild Turkey Federation, located in South Carolina;

$300,000 for potato pest management in Wisconsin;

$2 million to address chronic wasting disease in Wisconsin;

$250,000 to address chronic wasting disease in Utah—maybe we should study chronic wasting disease right here in Washington, because the amount of waste that goes on in this city has reached chronic levels, and that is stating it mildly;

$1 million for grasshopper and Mormon cricket activities in Utah;

$300,000 for grasshopper and Mormon cricket activities in Nevada;

$150,000 for beaver control in Kentucky;

$225,000 for blackbird control in Kansas;

$350,000 for evaluating native plant materials in Alaska;

$600,000 for cranberry production in Massachusetts and Wisconsin.

Here is the clincher: the report accompanying this bill directs the Secretary of Agriculture to take all necessary measures to maximize and to provide a fair allocation of resources under the farm bill to the State of Alaska. This directive is seen as necessary because the committee is deeply disturbed that Alaska has largely been ignored thus far in the implementation of the farm bill passed in 2002. We certainly would not want Alaska to suffer from a lack of Federal dollars now would we?

Even the reliable earmarks like shrimp aquaculture and peanut research are included. Shrimp aquaculture in Arizona and other states has been a consistent beneficiary of taxpayer dollars for 11 years, with this year's earmark being $4.2 million. Unfortunately, there is little explanation included to justify why targeted Federal dollars for earmarked projects are more important than other programs to protect food safety or more directly support farm programs in this bill.

I am confident that many of my colleagues will maintain the importance of the need to fully fund these and many of the other projects in their respective States. That is fine. I do not fault them for it. In fact, let me state clearly, that I do not question the merits of these projects. Most of them, I am sure, are very important and worthy for Federal funds.

It is the process with which I have a serious problem. The Appropriations Committee has effectively usurped the power of the authorizing committees and acts as one, all-powerful funding machine. Projects are often funded with little or no background study, and are approved after simply being requested by a fellow Senator. These same projects are directed to certain States and localities, completely circumventing the proper, competitive-based awards process. Additionally, the Appropriations Committee routinely uses directive language to force cabinet secretaries and agency heads to use scarce taxpayer dollars to fund members' pet projects, while not alloting them a single dime with which to fulfill the requirements imposed upon them by the appropriators.

This spending spree is an outrage. As all of my colleagues know, CBO recently projected a potentially debilitating $480 billion deficit for 2004. More importantly, we are at war. President Bush is poised to sign a supplemental appropriation of $87 billion for the ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Every one of us has asked ourselves the same question: "where is that money going to come from?" I have an idea Mr. President. Let's start with this bill. Let's eliminate all of the unrequested earmarks, all of the special deals, all of the pork and all of the waste. Let's prove to the American taxpayer that we in Washington do not see them as simply a cash cow for our every financial whim.

I urge my colleagues to work harder to curb our habit of funneling resources to parochial interests. Serving the public good must continue to be our mandate, and we can only live up to that charge by keeping the process free of unfair and unnecessary spending that unduly burdens the American taxpayer.

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