Senate Appropriations Committee Approves USDA, FDA Spending Plan

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved $19.8 billion in discretionary funding for agencies including the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration for the next fiscal year, a cut of 0.7 percent from current spending.

The bill, which funds programs including food safety and rural development, allots 16 percent more than the House of Representatives called for in June. The cost estimate for the measure doesn’t include funding for programs required by law.

U.S. spending bills are being constrained by concerns over the size of the federal budget deficit. A 12-member congressional supercommittee created in August as part of the agreement to raise the national debt limit faces a Nov. 23 deadline to come up with recommendations for $1.5 trillion in budget savings over 10 years.

“This is a very austere measure,” Committee Chairman Herb Kohl, Democrat of Wisconsin, said at today’s meeting.

FDA spending for fiscal year 2012 was set at $2.497 billion, up 2 percent from this year. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, responsible for monitoring the nation’s meat supply, would receive $1.007 billion, unchanged from 2011.

Savings came partly from the Women, Infants and Children Program, which was cut 2.3 percent to $6.582 billion because of lower projected participation rates, and from the National Resources Conservation Service, where spending would decline 4.9 percent to $828 million.

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