The House Appropriations Committee's agriculture subcommittee approved its version of the fiscal year 2012 funding bill Tuesday, cutting more than $2.5 billion, or 13 percent, from USDA's fiscal year 2011 allocation.

The research budget was cut 13.7 percent from the fiscal year 2011 level. If those cuts become law, agriculture research funded by the federal government would be reduced approximately 20 percent, more than $600 million, from the 2010 fiscal year, even as food security becomes more important around the globe.  

Beyond research, other areas were also deeply cut, including food aid, down 25.7 percent from fiscal year 2011; conservation funding, down 11.5 percent; and marketing and regulatory agencies, down 8.6 percent.

The subcommittee also declined to increase funds for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission despite repeated requests and CFTC's well-known needs related to implementation of the Dodd-Frank regulatory reform law.

Other priority areas fared better in the mark-up. Subcommittee members chose not to reduce funding for export market development programs authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill. Both the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development program were funded at authorized levels, $200 million and $34.5 million respectively.

As in recent years, the vast majority - nearly 77 percent - of funding in the subcommittee's jurisdiction would go to discretionary and mandatory nutrition programs.

The Senate has yet to finalize a budget resolution, and it's unclear if the chamber will take one up at all.

Source: National Association of Wheat Growers