House releases draft 2014 agriculture spending bill

All 12 of the House spending bills for 2014 are to follow the $967 billion top-line spending level called for by sequestration in the 2011 Budget Control Act and reaffirmed by the House-passed budget.

The Senate is following a much higher budget of $1.058 trillion leading to little hope of finish the spending process before the fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. 

It is unclear if the House will actually vote on any more of the bills once it processes Military Construction, Homeland Security, Defense and the Agriculture titles, although Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) has vowed to move forward.

As it did last year, the House in the agriculture bill is refusing to provide the Commodity Futures Trading Commission money it wants to implement the Dodd-Frank financial law. The CFTC is funded at $120 million below President Obama’s request.

Other cuts come from the $7 billion Women, Infant and Children (WIC) nutrition program which sees a cut of $214 million below 2103. That is $487 million below the Obama budget. 

International food programs receive a cut of $284 million below 2013. Appropriators have rejected an Obama proposal to move the program to the U.S. Agency for International Development. The administration wants to change the way food aid is provided by curtailing the purchasing of U.S. commodities and encouraging purchases from foreign farmers.  

The bill gives a much smaller $31 million cut for meat and egg inspectors at the Food Safety and Inspection Service and gives the FDA a $24 million increase.

Earlier this year, Congress had to act to avert meat inspector furloughs when the March 1 sequester went into effect. 

The Agriculture appropriations bill does not set mandatory food stamp or farm subsidy payment levels. Those programs are governed by the farm bill and a five-year version of that package is coming to the floor in the middle of June.