Mar 20 2013

Senator Blunt Applauds Passage Of FY13 Agriculture Appropriations Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) applauded the Senate’s passage of the FY13 Agriculture Appropriations bill today. Blunt serves as the Ranking Member for the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies.

“Agriculture supports 16 million jobs across America, and Missouri has the second highest number of farms nationwide,” said Blunt. “This bill provides much needed certainty for the nation’s agriculture programs, which touch the lives of every American, every day.”

The legislation places priority on efforts that protect the public health and help maintain the strength of our nation’s agriculture economy. In addition, the funding level for the Agriculture bill is $310 million below President Obama’s request.

Additional Background On The FY13 Agriculture Appropriations Bill:

As the economy continues to struggle, Senator Blunt believes we must ensure farmers, ranchers, and rural communities have the certainty they need moving forward. Senator Blunt believe the FY13 Agriculture Appropriations bill fairly addresses funding needs and priorities at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Sound agricultural research is the cornerstone to success in all aspects of the agriculture industry, whether it’s developing more efficient production methods, eradicating pests and disease, developing biofuels, maintaining a safe food supply, or enhancing the nutritional quality of our diets.

The FY13 Agriculture Appropriations bill places significant emphasis on maintaining research programs at our land grant universities and funding competitive research programs such as the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. This bill increases the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative program by $26 million above last year.

The Agriculture bill also provides valuable, low-cost financial opportunities to assist rural communities in areas such as low income housing, drinking water and waste disposal, and telecommunications infrastructure. These activities encourage economic development in rural America, and improve the quality of life for residents with limited resources.

The Senate passed an amendment today introduced by Senator Blunt and U.S. Senator Mark Pryor (Ark.) that will protect private sector jobs by solving a funding gap for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). In doing so, the amendment protects Americans’ jobs at meat, poultry, and egg production facilities nationwide.

Without the Pryor/Blunt amendment, it’s estimated that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) projected food inspector furloughs would have closed nearly 6,300 food inspection facilities across America. As a result, over 500,000 industry workers would have lost nearly $400 million in wages.

Increased loan authority funding is provided for rural water and waste water systems, which will update aging infrastructure and provide safe drinking water to rural communities.

The bill also includes a provision that provides farmers who plant USDA approved biotech crops with the assurance that they may harvest that crop and sell their product in the marketplace. Lawsuits challenging things like the “environmental review” undertaken by USDA have resulted in challenges to already planted and approved crops, such as alfalfa and sugar beets.

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