WASHINGTON – The White House released a proposal on June 21 that would shift all food safety functions to the US Dept. of Agriculture while moving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to a new Bureau of Economic Growth within the Dept. of Commerce.
The agency shakeup comes a year after President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to develop a plan to make the executive branch more efficient and responsive.
Merging the Depts. of Education and Labor into a single also was among the proposed reforms.
“This plan will serve as a cornerstone for a productive, bipartisan dialogue around making the Federal Government work for the 21st century,” according to the administration. “Instead of a “one size fits all” approach to reform, the Trump administration’s plan to reorganize the government proposes solutions tailored to each agency’s mission.”
2018 Farm Bill
In other regulatory news, the US House of Representatives narrowly passed its version of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 by a vote of 213-211. Agriculture industry stakeholders applauded lawmakers’ efforts.
“We are glad the House-passed bill addresses a number of priorities for producers, including authorization and funding for a national vaccine bank that prioritizes Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) prevention,” Kevin Kester, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said in a statement. “The bill also strengthens conservation programs and improves USDA’s foreign market development activities. House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway and all those who voted ‘yes’ deserve a great deal of thanks for their support.”
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) also acknowledged the funding of an FMD vaccine bank as a win for pork producers but added that more funding is needed. NPPC is seeking funding in each year of the next farm bill of $250 million. This figure includes $150 million for the vaccine bank, $70 million for state block grants for disease prevention and $30 million for a laboratory network to provide disease diagnostic support.
NPPC President Jim Heimerl said the pork industry needs adequate funding to protect livestock from FMD, which affects cloven-hooved animals include cattle, pigs and sheep. The House version of the farm bill includes those amounts only for the first year, according to NPPC, with $30 million for state block grants and $20 million to be used at the Agriculture secretary’s discretion for the grants, labs and the vaccine bank for each of the other years. The US Senate version of the bill calls for an FMD vaccine bank but includes money only for the labs.
“The United States is not prepared for an FMD outbreak, so we really need to have the full five-year mandatory funding,” Heimerl said. “We hope the Senate heeds our plea. We can’t afford the financial devastation this disease would wreak on farmers and the US economy.”
The bill also includes funding for the Market Access and Foreign Market Development programs in addition to funding for feral swine eradication.