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Senate Subcommittee Approves Agriculture Draft Spending Bill Without Food Aid Reform Changes

On Tuesday, “[t]he Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee approved, without objection, a [$20.9 billion draft spending] bill that would increase funding for the Agriculture Department, the Food and Drug Administration and related programs by $420 million more than the fiscal 2013-enacted level, not including cuts triggered by sequestration,” CQ Roll Call reports, noting, “The full committee is set to consider the measure Thursday.” According to the news service, “The measure would provide roughly $1.5 billion for foreign food assistance under the Food for Peace program, $33 million above the fiscal 2013 level” (Marcos, 6/18). However, the “bill rejects a proposal by President Obama to give the administration greater flexibility when purchasing food for international food aid,” The Hill’s “On The Money” blog reports, noting, “Obama wants to reduce the purchases of U.S. farm goods and allow [USAID] to buy food abroad.” According to the blog, “Ranking member Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said he was pleased that the ‘core integrity’ of the existing Food for Peace program had been preserved” (Wasson, 6/18). VOA News examines the debate over U.S. food aid, the agricultural industry’s opposition to reform, and some non-governmental organizations’ preference for cash over food aid (Baragona/Farabaugh/Loomis, 6/18).