The legislation focuses investments in programs that support U.S.
agriculture, boost rural communities, maintain food and drug safety, and
provide nutrition for children, families, and seniors. In total, the bill
provides $142.5 billion in both discretionary and mandatory funding – $1.5
billion below the President’s request and $3 billion below the fiscal year 2014
enacted level. Discretionary funding alone in the bill is $20.9 billion, the
same as the fiscal year 2014 enacted level.
Agricultural Research – The bill provides $2.65 billion for agriculture
research programs, including the Agricultural Research Service and the National
Institute of Food and Agriculture. This is approximately equal to the fiscal
year 2014 enacted funding level. This funding will support research to help
mitigate and stop devastating crop diseases, and improve food safety and water
quality. The funding will also support responsible investments in the nation’s
land-grant colleges and universities.
Animal and Plant Health – The legislation includes $870.7 million – $45.8
million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level – for the Animal and Plant
Health Inspection Service. This funding will provide support for programs to
help control or eradicate plant and animal pests and diseases, and includes
increases to fight citrus greening and an epidemic porcine virus.
Conservation Programs – The bill provides $869 million – $43 million above
the fiscal year 2014 enacted level – to help farmers, ranchers, and private
forest landowners conserve and protect their land. This includes $25 million –
an increase of $13 million – in infrastructure rehabilitation funding to help
small communities meet current safety standards for watershed projects.
Farm Service Agency (FSA) – The legislation provides $1.5 billion for FSA,
which is $27 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. This funding
will support various farm, conservation, loan, and emergency programs.
Rural Development – The bill provides a total of $2.6 billion for rural
development programs, which is $178 million above the fiscal year 2015
requested level. These programs help create an environment for economic growth
by supporting basic rural infrastructure, providing loans to increase
opportunities for rural businesses and industries, and helping balance the
playing field in local rural housing markets. The bill also establishes a new
Chief Risk Officer to oversee and be accountable for the $200 billion rural
development loan portfolio.
Business and Industry Loans – The legislation includes $45 million – $22
million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level – for the rural business and
industry loan program. This funding will support $881 million in loans to help
small businesses in rural areas.
Rural Infrastructure – The legislation includes responsible investments
in infrastructure needs to help rural areas of the country access basic
utilities. This includes $1.3 billion – an increase of $85 million above the
fiscal year 2014 enacted level – for rural water and waste program loans, and
$606 million for grants, an increase of $145 million above current levels. In
addition, $6.2 billion is provided for rural electric and telephone
infrastructure loans, the same level as fiscal year 2014.
Rural Housing Loans and Rental Assistance – The bill provides a
total of $24 billion in loan authority for the Single Family Housing guaranteed
loan program, which is equal to the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and the
President’s request. In addition, the bill includes $1 billion in direct loans
– an increase of $142 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $682
million above the President’s request. These loans provide low-income rural
families – many of whom would have few loan options for purchasing a home
because of their geographical location – with home loan assistance. In
addition, $1.1 billion is provided for rental assistance for affordable rental
housing for low-income families and the elderly in rural communities.
Food Safety and Inspection Service – The legislation includes $1 billion for food
safety and inspection programs – approximately the same as the 2014 enacted
level. These mandatory inspection activities help ensure the safety and
productivity of the country’s $186 billion meat and poultry industry, and keep
safe, healthy food on American tables. The funding provided will maintain more
than 8,000 frontline inspection personnel for meat, poultry, and egg products
at more than 6,400 facilities across the country.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – The FDA receives a total of almost $2.6
billion in discretionary funding in the bill, an increase of $23 million over
the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. Total funding for the FDA, including
revenue from user fees, is $4.5 billion, $98 million above fiscal year 2014.
Within this total, food safety activities are increased by $25 million, and
drug safety activities are increased by $12 million.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) – Included in the bill is
$218 million for the CFTC, an increase of approximately $3 million above the
fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $62 million below the President’s budget
request. The increase is targeted to necessary information technology
International Food Programs – The legislation contains $1.7 billion for
overseas food aid. This includes a $66 million increase above the
President’s request for “Food for Peace” grants, and a $13 million increase
over the request for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and
Child Nutrition program.
Food and Nutrition Programs – The legislation contains discretionary funding, as
well as mandatory funding required by law, for food and nutrition programs
within the Department of Agriculture. This includes funding for the Special
Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Child Nutrition
WIC – The bill provides $6.6 billion in discretionary funding for WIC, which
is $93 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $200 million below
the President’s request. This program provides supplemental nutritional foods
needed by approximately 8.5 million pregnant and nursing mothers, babies and
young children each month. The bill reflects USDA’s estimates of declining
enrollments in the program, and will not prevent any eligible participant from
receiving benefits. The legislation also includes $25 million for states to
transfer from paper vouchers to a more efficient electronic benefit transfer
(EBT) system that will help identify waste or abuse within the program.
Language is included to ensure that all varieties of fresh vegetables,
including white potatoes, are eligible for purchase through the WIC program.
Child nutrition programs – The bill provides for $20.5 billion in required
mandatory funding – which is outside the discretionary funding jurisdiction of
the Appropriations Committee – for child nutrition programs. This is $1.2
billion above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. This funding will provide
free or reduced-price school lunches and snacks for 30.4 million children who
qualify for the program. Responding to the requests of local schools, the bill
includes language requiring USDA to establish a process that will allow schools
demonstrating an economic hardship to seek a temporary waiver from compliance
with certain nutrition regulations during the 2014-15 school year.
Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – The bill provides for $82.3 billion in required
mandatory spending – which is outside the discretionary funding jurisdiction of
the Appropriations Committee – for SNAP. This is $81 million above last year’s
level and $2 billion below the President’s budget request. The total includes
$3 billion for the SNAP reserve fund, $2 billion below the President’s request,
which is used to cover any unexpected participation increases. This program
provides food assistance to more than 47 million Americans on average every
month. In addition, strong oversight language is included to require the
Secretary of Agriculture to report on actions to help weed out and eliminate
waste, fraud, and abuse in the program. This includes a directive to ban
fraudulent retailers, and required enforcement of a ban on certain recruitment
activities and advertisements or outreach with foreign governments.