At presstime, the House of Representatives had just passed H.R. 2744, “the fiscal year 2006 agriculture appropriations bill,” by a vote of 408-18. The $100.3 billion bill provides $16.8 billion in discretionary funding with the rest going to mandatory programs. This is a 17% increase in mandatory spending, primarily for farm subsidies and food stamps. The major issue for the livestock industry was the one-year delay of the mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) of meat products. Other key items include:

  • Food Safety and Inspection Service funding increased by $20 million over last year, to $837 million.

  • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service funded at $829 million, a $16-million increase over last year.

  • BSE detection/prevention funded at last year's level — $90 million.

  • The bill doesn't include White House-proposed user fees for meat and poultry inspection.

The Senate Ag Appropriations subcommittee was to consider the legislation in late June.