The House Appropriations Committee voted this week to block USDA from implementing the rule on production and marketing of poultry and livestock proposed last year by the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA).

“Many members on both sides of the aisle have expressed serious concerns on the potential economic impact these new rules would have on fragile rural economies,” said Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY).  “This provision will allow the department to go back to the drawing board and do a thorough economic analysis of the proposal, something that was absent from the initial draft,” he said.  Rogers said the regulation was “onerous.”

The committee voted to prohibit USDA from spending any government funds on implementing  the rule.  The provision was part of a $125.5 billion appropriations bill for USDA, the Food & Drug Administration, and related agencies, for the fiscal year beginning October 1.  The bill cuts spending in these areas by 13 percent from current levels.

The committee also went after federal subsidies for ethanol and biofuels, cutting a program to subsidize installation of “blender pumps”  at rural service stations, and other renewable energy program, from $75 million to $1.3 million.  The ethanol industry has sought support for the program to increase the availability of “E85” and other blends higher than the standard 10 – percent ethanol content in gasoline.   The committee voted to eliminate funding for a program to pay farmers to harvest corn cobs, switchgrass and other alternative feedstocks for production of fuel.

The committee also voted to reduce the income limit for farmers and landowners receiving crop subsidies from $750,000 in farm income and $500,000 in off-farm earnings to adjusted gross income of no more than $250,000 a year.

The bill goes next to the House floor and then on to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where both ethanol and crop subsidies have many staunch supporters.