President Bush sent his $2.77 trillion fiscal year 2007 budget to Congress last month. The budget contains $93 billion for USDA, $3 billion less than FY 2006.

Nearly 77% of the budget is for mandatory programs — commodity and conservation programs, nutrition assistance and export promotion. Discretionary programs account for 23% of the budget. This includes rural development funds, research and education, conservation technical assistance, domestic marketing assistance, and the Women, Infants and Children program. Items included are:

  • Market Access Program — reduced from $200 million to $100 million.

  • Foreign Market Development — $34.5 million, the same as last year.

  • User Fees — $105 million in user fees for meat and poultry inspection.

  • Avian Influenza — $82 million to continue to work with states in surveillance, preparedness and response.

  • Food and Ag Defense Initiative — $322 million ($127 million increase) to continue improving the safety and security of food and agriculture.

  • BSE Surveillance Program — $17 million to test 40,000 animals.

  • Ag Research Service — $40 million increase for exotic and emerging diseases.

  • The Food Safety and Inspection Service is funded at $987 million, an increase of $35 million over FY ‘06.

  • Wetlands Reserve Program — $400 million for an additional 250,000 acres to be enrolled in the program.

  • Conservation Reserve — $2.1 billion.

  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program — $1 billion would support the participation of 55,000 producers, which will cover nearly 20 million acres.

  • Energy initiatives — $85 million ($18 million increase) for renewable energy research and demonstration projects.

  • School Lunch — $13.9 billion, a $700 million increase.