The House of Representatives passed its fiscal year 2008 ag appropriations bill prior to leaving for its summer recess. The bill includes $18.817 billion in discretionary spending, which is $1.002 billion more than last year's bill. Key items in the bill include:

  • Animal ID -- Provides no new funding for the animal ID program. According to the House Appropriations Committee, USDA "cannot justify money already appropriated. Drastic action is required as this program is far too important to be allowed to continue to flounder. The agency is directed to develop a detailed plan with measurable goals."

  • Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) -- Provides $930.1 million for FSIS, $38 million above FY 2007. This will help address vacancies in federal meat inspector positions.
  • Imported poultry products from China -- Prohibits USDA from establishing or implementing a rule allowing poultry products from China into the U.S.

  • Country-of-origin labeling (COOL) -- Provides an additional $2 million to USDA's Ag Marketing Service (AMS) to implement mandatory COOL. Establishes benchmarks for USDA to meet in developing a final rule to implement mandatory COOL.

  • Trade programs -- Provides full funding for the Foreign Market Development program at $34.5 million and the Market Access Program at $200 million.

  • Packer audit -- Encourages USDA's Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration to conduct its own audits of large packers instead of relying on company level audits. Provides an additional $2 million to provide for additional employees to "strengthen enforcement and promote voluntary compliance."

  • User fees -- The bill does not include the administration's proposed user fees for meat, poultry and egg inspection.