The Obama White House has issued a statement of administration policy criticizing House Appropriations Committee-approved legislation that would eliminate payments being made as part of a settlement of Brazil’s WTO case against the U.S. cotton program.

The $147 million in payments are part of $2.7 billion in cuts proposed by the Appropriations Committee to the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies fiscal year 2012 budget.

The administration is concerned by a provision in section 743 that would eliminate payments that are being made as part of the mutually agreed settlement of a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute regarding U.S. domestic cotton supports and the export credit guarantee program,” the statement of policy said. (For more on the spending reductions, go to http://southwestfarmpress.com/government/budget-battle-shifting-agricultural-appropriations-subcommittee-senate.)

Trade countermeasures

“The framework serves as a basis to avoid trade-related countermeasures by Brazil that are authorized by the WTO until the enactment of successor legislation to the current farm bill. Under the agreement, the United States is committed to fund technical assistance and capacity-building support for Brazil’s cotton sector.”

The statement cites seven areas where the administration says the House Appropriations Committee bill provides “insufficient funding” in a way that undermines government functions and reduces investments that are key to economic growth and job creation.

Among those are funding for research programs, which it says are needed to help solve food production, safety, quality, energy and environmental problems. “By reducing funding for the Agricultural Research Service to its lowest level since 2004 as well as inadequately funding the nation’s competitive grant program, the bill will hinder USDA’s ability to develop solutions to address current as well as impending critical national and international challenges.”

Nutrition, food safety cuts

Other areas of reduced funding which concern the administration include:

  • Nutrition programs that are critical to the health of nutritionally at-risk women, infants, children, and elderly adults.
  • The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) which will significantly hamper USDA’s ability to inspect food processing plants and prevent food borne illnesses and disease such as E. coli and Salmonella from contaminating America’s food supply.
  • The Healthy Food Financing Initiative, a key initiative to combat childhood obesity.
  • The Food and Drug Administration where theresulting staff reductions will severely limit the FDA’s ability to protect the public’s health, assure the American consumer that food and medical products are safe, and improve Americans’ access to safe and less costly generic drugs and biologics.
  • The Commodity Futures Trading Commission where reduced funding would cut staffing levels and seriously undermine CFTC’s ability to protect investors and consumers by effectively policing the futures and swaps marketplace through its current market oversight and enforcement functions.
  • International Food Aid where funding reductions would severely limit the United States’ ability to provide food assistance in response to emergencies and disasters around the world.

“Moreover, the funding level would significantly curtail the timely, effective implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, including new CFTC responsibilities to regulate the $300 trillion swaps derivatives market,” the SAP said.