Created by on 09/19/2011

On September 7th, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its fiscal year (FY) 2012 Agriculture funding bill (HR 2112) by a vote of 28-2. The legislation provides $266 million for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), representing a $1 million increase over the FY 2011 full year “continuing resolution”and $36.5 million more than the bill passed by the House. In addition, the committee approved $1.21 billion for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the agency which oversees AFRI. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) registered the only “no” votes in the committee. A subcommittee mark-up of the Senate Agriculture bill did not take place this year.

In opening statements before the full committee, Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Ranking Member Roy Blunt (R-MO) expressed support for USDA competitive research and praised the committee for ensuring that certain high-priority programs (including AFRI) received flat funding or small budget increases, despite the difficult budget constraints. Senator Blunt added that, in contrast, most accounts funded within the bill were reduced by at least five percent from FY 2011 levels.

The bill’s accompanying report encourages AFRI to focus on research priorities specified for the program in the 2008 Farm Bill, including an emphasis on conventional plant and animal breeding. A summary of the legislation and an audio-only webcast of the full committee deliberations are available on the Appropriations Committee website.