A May 31 funding bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee would require mandatory and discretionary spending cuts for FY 2012 on soil and water conservation programs, as well as rural energy. Funds for conservation programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are provided under the appropriations measure for agriculture, rural development, the Food and Drug Administration, and related agencies. Discretionary spending in the bill totals $17.25 billion, which is $2.7 billion below FY 2011 spending levels and $5 billion below President Obama's FY 2012 budget request. The same level of spending was approved May 24 by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies.
The bill also includes $108.2 billion in mandatory spending in FY 2012 for programs under the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, or the Farm Bill (Pub. L. No. 110-234). The funding for mandatory programs would be $2 billion more than the budget request, but roughly $2.9 billion below FY 2011 spending levels. $1 billion cut in Farm Bill programs Spending for Farm Bill programs would affect wetlands and land conservation programs and a biofuels program from fiscal 2011 levels. Specifically, the bill would cut $350 million from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program's (EQIP) authorized spending levels of $1.75 billion, leaving the program funded at $1.4 billion in FY 2012. The bill includes $785.9 million to conserve soil and water resources on U.S. farmlands and $500 million in water and waste-disposal loans for rural communities. Specifically, it includes $770.9 billion for the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service to provide technical assistance to farmers on conserving soil and water and $15 million to USDA for watershed rehabilitation and flood prevention.