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Bush proposal chops disaster programs

Agriculture would take some hefty cuts in the fiscal 2002 budget of $1.96 trillion proposed by the Bush administration, in comparison to fiscal 2001spending.

By far the majority of the proposed cuts are in the market loss/disaster aid and emergency aid categories, which the administration says can come from contingency funds, if necessary.

Most other USDA budget categories proposed for fiscal 2002 are the same or higher than in fiscal 2001.

The export enhancement program would remain unchanged from 2001, at $478 million — though down significantly from the $579 million in fiscal 2000. The export credit guarantees program would be increased from $3.792 billion in fiscal 2001 to $3.904 billion in 2002.

PL480 Food for Peace programs would be reduced, however, from $1.017 billion in fiscal 2001 to $995 million for 2002. Within that category, concessional sales would drop from $180 million in the last fiscal year to $160 million in 2002. Humanitarian aid would drop from $837 million in 2001 to $835 million in 2002.

The Market Access Program would continue at the $90 billion level of the last two fiscal years. The Conservation Reserve Program would increase from $1.742 billion in fiscal 2001 to $1.760 billion in 2002. Environmental quality programs would increase from $174 million in 2001 to $179 million in 2002.

Food stamps and other food/welfare and women/infants/children programs would be boosted from a total $33.708 billion in fiscal 2001 to $35.735 billion in 2002.

Food safety program funding, at $164 million in 2001, would be eliminated in 2002, and meat inspection programs would be increased from $697 million in 2001 to $716 million in 2002.

Nearly $6 billion would be chopped out of total funding for the USDA in 2002. The Bush proposal is for a total $63.25 billion, down from $69.599 billion in fiscal 2001, and more than $10 billion below the $75.663 billion in fiscal 2000.

The major cuts would come in the market loss/disaster aid and emergency aid categories, which show no funding proposed. Both categories totaled $10.6 billion in fiscal 2001.

The proposed Bush budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 would spend 5.6 percent more than in fiscal 2001, substantially below the 8.7 percent increase former President Clinton was able to push through for the current year.

Bush has said he will hold the reins on government programs and spending and will veto any wasteful congressional spending proposals.

E-mail: hembree_brandon@intertec.com

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