House, Senate approve $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill; ag research gets boost

WASHINGTON — The House and Senate approved a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government for the rest of fiscal 2014.

The bill combines all 12 appropriations bills for various spending categories. It establishes discretionary spending at $1.012 trillion as well as an additional $98 billion for defense and disaster relief.

This is the first comprehensive spending proposal for the federal government since the 2012 omnibus spending bill. The federal government has since been running on piecemeal funding bills.

The bill provides $20.9 billion — an increase of $350 million from fiscal 2013 — for discretionary funding for USDA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Farm Credit Administration.

The bill provides $2.6 billion for agriculture research programs, including the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

This includes $316 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, a competitive agricultural research grant program supporting research to help stop and mitigate devastating crop diseases and improve food safety and water quality, placing priority on drought, invasive species, and herbicide resistance issues.

It also provides $826 million for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service would receive more than $1 billion, $19 million less than fiscal 2013.

Also included are $20 million for feral swine eradication and $404 million for construction of the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kan., to replace Plum Island in New York.

In addition to funding agencies and programs, the bill continues the prohibition on the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) from implementing regulations related to the 2010 proposed GIPSA rule that dealt with contracts in the livestock and poultry industries.

The omnibus package also includes language addressing mandatory country-of-origin labeling, expressing the sense of Congress that the May 23 rule from USDA on meat labeling does not meet U.S. trade obligations under the World Trade Organization and should be changed.

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