USDA Secretary Outlines 2008 Budget Request

Johanns aims to curb spending while funding biofuels initiatives and other programs.

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced details of President Bush's budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in fiscal year 2008.

USDA's total expenditures in 2008 are estimated at about $89 billion, approximately the same as 2007. About $67 billion will go towards mandatory programs, including many nutrition assistance, commodity, export promotion and conservation programs. The remaining $22 billion will be for discretionary programs, including the Women, Infants and Children program, research and education, soil and water conservation technical assistance, management of National Forests, and rural development loans and grants.

"Every federal agency shares the President's vision" of curbing spending, Johanns said during a press conference. Johanns says the budget will help to meet the President's objective of controlling spending while meeting USDA's own goals - "doing more with less," he says.

Johanns highlighted the budget's focus on energy initiatives during the conference, and the 2008 budget provides $397 million for energy projects, $161 million more than 2007. The figure does not include the $1.6 billion request in the Administration's 2007 Farm Bill Proposals.

Nutrition programs continue to make up a large part of the USDA budget, with $56 billion going towards the three major nutrition programs: Food Stamps, Child Nutrition (including School Lunch programs), and the Women, Infants and Children program.

Conservation programs draw nearly $4 billion for a total of 215 million acres in the 2008 budget, with just over $2 billion for the Conservation Reserve Program; $1 billion for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program; and $455 million for the Wetlands Reserve Program. In regards to CRP acreage, Johanns mentioned during the conference that "there doesn't seem to be a lot of doubt that there's a lot of pressure there because the price of corn is high."

Commodity Credit Corporation expenditures are estimated to decline from $20.2 billion in 2005 and 2006 to $12 billion by 2008, due largely to rising commodity prices due to ethanol production.

The budget also calls for $82 million to fund avian influenza programs, a $32 million increase over 2007.

TAGS: Farm Policy
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