President Obama released the proposed 2015 budget on Tuesday, focusing on tax reform measures by closing loopholes and expanding credits. The proposed $3.901 trillion budget is expected to be mostly ignored by Congress, but to be used as a guiding document for Democratic priorities.

The proposed budget for USDA is $146 billion – $12 billion less than last year’s budget.  Discretionary spending will be down $1 billion from last year and mandatory spending is reduced by $11 billion, mostly showing reductions in crop insurance and the Commodity Credit Corporation Fund.

Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS): At a little over $1 billion, the total budget is $10 million less than last year. User fees are expected to be the same as last year with $189 million collected through existing user fees and trust fund activities for overtime, holiday, and voluntary inspection services.

FSIS intends to develop new performance standards for comminuted products based on the results of their testing and risk assessment analysis. FSIS also continues to move forward with a new inspection system for young poultry slaughter establishments that would facilitate public health-based inspection. By revising current procedures and removing outdated regulatory requirements that do not help combat foodborne illness, the result will be a more efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars that will reduce the risk of foodborne illness by focusing FSIS inspection activities on those tasks that advance FSIS’ core mission of food safety.

In an effort to revise current procedures and remove outdated regulatory requirements that do not help combat foodborne illness, FSIS proposed in January 2012 a new poultry slaughter rule that improves food safety and also results in a more efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars. The proposed rule would provide for a new inspection system for young chicken and turkey slaughter establishments that would replace the current Streamlined Inspection System, the New Line Speed Inspection System, and the New Turkey Inspection System. According to FSIS, the proposed new inspection system will facilitate the reduction of pathogen levels in poultry products by permitting FSIS to better focus off-line resources at critical process points such as verification of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point systems, verification of the production process at multiple locations, and sampling for pathogenic microorganisms that deserve increased attention in all plants.

Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS): The APHIS proposed budget for 2015 is $837 million, which includes a total of about $287 million to protect the health of livestock, poultry, and other animals. The budget includes an increase for Animal Health Technical Services to increase support for states and tribes as they expand their animal disease traceability efforts. Fifty million dollars of the proposed budget will be used specifically for avian health.

APHIS will also submit legislative proposals to authorize the collection of about $9 million in user fees for animal welfare activities. To support emerging technologies, APHIS will submit legislative proposals to authorize the collection of about $7 million in user fees for veterinary biologics activities, and $4 million in user fees for biotechnology regulatory services activities. According to APHIS, these proposed user fees will allow APHIS to retain quality services as demand increases and assist APHIS in fulfilling the mission to protect the health and value of American agriculture and natural resources.

Grain Inspection and Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA): For 2015, the budget includes a total budget authority for GIPSA of $94 million, of which $50 million is from existing inspection and weighing user fees. Of the discretionary appropriation request, about $20 million is allocated to the Grain Regulatory Program including standardization, compliance, and methods development activities and about $24 million is for the Packers and Stockyards Program. Separately, GIPSA will submit legislative proposals to authorize the collection of fees for the development of grain standards and to amend the Packers and Stockyards Act to provide authority to collect license fees to cover the cost of the program.

Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative (OGS): In the 2015 budget proposal, a separate $56 billion initiative was requested, offset by spending reductions and tax reforms. The purpose of this initiative is to spur economic progress, promote opportunity, and strengthen national security. These funds are requested for specific projects and not included in the department funding levels.

USDA’s Agricultural Research Service requested about $197 million through OGS, including $155 million for the replacement of the Southeast Poultry Disease Research Laboratory in Athens, Georgia. According to ARS, most of the original buildings at SEPRL, including the Biological Safety Level (BSL) 2 Laboratory, were constructed in 1963 and 1964, and the BSL 3 Agriculture Facility was constructed in 1975. Facility limitations prevent critical, cutting edge research from being conducted. SEPRL has conducted crucial research on exotic poultry diseases and has the only USDA program that provides research support to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and the Food and Drug Administration on diseases such as avian influenza (including the H5N1 virus) and velogenic Newcastle disease. Construction of a new facility will enable USDA scientists to adequately address emerging and exotic poultry diseases that threaten not only the nation’s poultry industry but also the health of Americans.

In other areas, the budget provides an increase of $75 million for three public-private innovation institutes ($25 million each). One of these institutes will focus entirely on the issue of antimicrobial resistance research (AMR) by supporting the generation of evidence-based data to address known and emerging information gaps in mitigating AMR. The budget proposal provides $5.4 billion to effectively implement 2014 Farm Bill conservation programs, such as enrolling additional acres into conservation programs.