After voting Wednesday evening on a series of amendments to the fiscal 2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill, the House Republican leadership late Wednesday delayed further action on the bill until the week of June 23, due to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) primary loss on Tuesday.  The House considered 10 amendments, but  did not take up the controversial issue of whether to strike a provision calling on the Agriculture Department to grant waivers from healthy school meals rules to schools that say they have lost money on their meals program for six months.

Over 70 amendment have been filed on the bill.  The following three are of particular interest to the chicken industry:

  • Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) will offer an amendment that would strike in its entirety Section 730 from the bill. Section 730 does not allow USDA to write, prepare, or publish a final rule or an interim final rule on the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Act on any provisions that were outside the congressional mandate of the 2008 Farm Bill.
  • Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) has also filed an amendment that would not allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture to “finalize, implement, administer or enforce the proposed rule” entitled, “Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection” published by USDA in the Federal Register on January 27, 2012. The rule would establish new standards for inspectors at poultry slaughter facilities.
  • Rep. Bob Goodlatte  (R-VA) also filed an amendment that would prohibit funds to be used to “construct, fund, install or operate an ethanol blender pump or to pay the salaries and expenses of personnel of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to award a grant for the installation of an ethanol blender pump. The pumps can dispense different combinations of gasoline and ethanol and are essential for promoting the use of E-15. E-15 has been approved for use by the Environmental Protection Agency. The Energy Title of the 2014 Farm Bill prohibits the funding of blender pumps, but despite the prohibition, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack said that he would seek to use the Agriculture Department’s rural development programs to install the pumps.

Lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol plan to continue chipping away at appropriations legislation for fiscal 2015. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has teed up for floor consideration a mini-omnibus that rolls together the bills for Commerce-Justice-Science, S. 2437; Agriculture-FDA, S. 2389; and Transportation-HUD, S. 2438, according to Appropriations Committee chairwoman Barbara Mikulski.