The House of Representatives passed a $419-billion omnibus appropriations bill that completes the appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2009. Discretionary spending for ag in FY ’09 is $20.5 billion, about $1.9 billion more than President George W. Bush’s request and $2.5 billion over current spending. Among the highlights are:

  • Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) – $972 million, a $41-million increase.
  • National animal ID – $14.5 million, an increase of $4.8 million, to meet the technology needs of the new animal-tracking system and continue to enroll stockyards in the system.
  • Livestock competition – $40.3 million, an increase of $1.8 million, to assure fair competition and fair trade practices, safeguard farmers and ranchers, and protect consumers and members of the livestock, meat and poultry industries from unfair, deceptive, discriminatory and monopolistic practices.
  • Imported poultry from China – prohibits USDA from moving forward with a rule to allow poultry products from China into the U.S.
  • Mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) – provides $9.6 million for USDA’s Ag Marketing Service to administer and oversee the implementation of mandatory COOL.
  • Inspection pilot program – prohibits USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) from implementing a pilot program to inspect certain facilities using a risk-based model until FSIS implements changes recommended by the USDA Inspector General.
  • The Senate is expected to pass the bill by March 6.