Agriculture Research Bill Faces Budget Crunch
In March, the conferees gave the nod to Lugar’s initiative, approving a bill that would provide $600 million in new funding over the next five years for agricultural research. “Our success at increasing food production may play a decisive role in the survival of billions of people and the health of our planet,” said Sen. Lugar. To this end, the science funded by the legislation would include a mix of basic and applied research in areas such as nutrition, biotechnology, and genomics.
The bill’s spending increases are made possible by cuts in the food stamp administration budget. However, the agriculture proposal is not the only piece of legislation that lays claim to those funds. The Senate budget resolution, passed early in April, would spend the money on the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act.
The agriculture bill is being squeezed between the funding caps imposed
by last year’s balanced budget agreement and this year’s massive highway
spending authorization. Adding to the pressure, the Administration has
threatened to veto the bill if it does not include a provision restoring
food stamp benefits to legal immigrants. Senate Majority Leader Trent
Lott (R-MS) has said that the agriculture bill will get passed, but
Congress needs to work on fitting it into the overall budget picture.
“We’ll get the job done, but probably not the way it came out of conference,”
he said. n