The Senate Appropriations Committee this week signed off on a fiscal year 2012 funding bill for USDA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), making cuts in most programs from the previous fiscal year levels. Overall spending is $3.2 billion lower than it was two years ago. The overall discretionary spending for the Senate bill is $19.780 and is $2.69 billion more than the House bill, which was passed in June.

The budget level for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is the same as the previous fiscal year at $1.007 billion.  The budget includes the full funding requested in the budget for federal, state and international inspection activities and will allow FSIS to continue modernizing its workforce and improving food safety systems.

The bill provides $2.309 billion for the National Institute on Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Agricultural Research Service.  The NIFA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative is funded at $266 million.

FDA’s budget for fiscal year 2012 is $2.497 billion, not including funding collected through user fees.  FDA is the only non-security agency to receive increased funding in this bill, taking into account its responsibilities to protect public health and safety, especially in the area of food safety. An increase is provided so that FDA can begin implementing the recently passed Food Safety Modernization Act.

The bill is expected to be part of a stopgap continuing resolution that will be necessary to maintain government funding beyond the September 30 end of fiscal 2011.