"The President's agriculture budget provides important resources that are necessary to promote economic opportunities and to preserve our commitment to our farmers, ranchers, rural citizens, and families in need," said Johanns. "This budget aims to enhance our country's vibrant ag economy, advance renewable energy, protect America's food supply, improve nutrition and health, and conserve our natural resources."
According to the White House and USDA, roughly 75% of expenditures, or $67 billion in 2008, will be for mandatory programs that provide services required by law, which include many of the nutrition assistance, commodity, export promotion and conservation programs.
USDA's discretionary programs account for the remaining 25% of expenditures or $22 billion in 2008, which is approximately the same level as 2007. Discretionary programs include the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program; rural development loans and grants; research and education; soil and water conservation technical assistance; management of National Forests and domestic marketing assistance.
Highlights of the FY 2008 budget include:
Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative. The budget proposes $325 million for on-going programs to support the multi-agency Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative. This proposal represents a $148 million increase for USDA to continue improving the safety and security of America's food supply and agriculture. Funding increases include: $36 million to strengthen responses to food emergencies, related training, and research for food defense; $35 million for research to improve animal vaccines and facilitate rapid response to agricultural threats; and $77 million to enhance surveillance and monitoring of pest and disease threats and to improve response capabilities, and other efforts.
In addition, the budget includes an increase of $16 million to design a new Consolidated Poultry Research Facility in Athens, Georgia, which will be the Department's premier center for conducting critical research on exotic and emerging avian diseases that could have devastating effects on animal and human health.
Avian Influenza. USDA continues to be a full partner in a government-wide effort to prepare the country for the potential of an influenza pandemic as well as the worldwide effort to stop the spread of the H5N1 virus at its source