House Nears Passage for FY 15 USDA Funding Bill

On Wednesday, the House voted to approve several amendments to HR 4800, the FY 15 Department of Agriculture Appropriations Act.  Beyond USDA, this appropriations measure also funds the Food & Drug Administration and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.  Final passage is expected to take place next week.  The measure will then move to a House-Senate Conference Committee where it will be reconciled with the Senate version of the bill which passed in May.
The approved amendments dealt principally with the need to shift funds to support struggling drought stricken farmers.  $11 million will be shifted from the USDA Farm Service Agency account to provide drought aid.  Traditionally, the Farm Service Agency houses the Conservation Reserve Program and the Emergency Conservation Program.  Additional amendments also approved additional support for invasive pest control and food safety inspections.  The House also voted down two amendments that would have defunded the Watershed Rehabilitation Program to rebuild aging dams.  Instead, the program which has received between $12 and $13 million in recent years, is slated to appropriate $92 million in FY 15.