President Bush submitted a $2.9-trillion, fiscal year 2008 budget request with the goal of eliminating the deficit over five years. Included is a request for $89 billion for USDA. Highlights include:
- $11.7 billion for farm subsidies through the Commodity Credit Corporation. This compares to $13.4 billion in FY '07 and $32.3 billion in FY 2000. The decrease is a result of higher commodity prices.
- $148 million increase for food safety.
- $92 million from a licensing fee program for meat and poultry plants. Congress has rejected user fees for meat and poultry inspection in the past.
- Foreign Market Development -- fully funded at $34.5 million.
- Market Access Program -- fully funded at $200 million.
- Food stamps -- $36.7 billion to cover an estimated monthly average of 26.2 million food stamp recipients.
- School Lunch -- provide funding for an average of 31.5 million children each day.
- EQIP -- $1 billion for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
- Wetlands Reserve Program -- $455 million, which is an increase of $191 million to enroll up to an additional 250,000 acres.
USDA Secretary Mike Johanns said, "This budget aims to enhance our country's vibrant ag economy, advance renewable energy, protect America's food supply, improve nutrition and health, and conserve our natural resources."
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent