- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Here is an agency-by-agency summary of President Barack Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal 2015, beginning next Oct. 1.

The top-line figures do not include spending on automatic benefit and subsidy programs that together account for 70 percent of government spending. Figures for many of those programs were not provided by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

The top-line figures for each agency also omit the $55.4 billion “opportunity” initiative Obama would divide equally between domestic and military programs. An agency-by-agency accounting of that proposed spending was not included in the White House budget documents.

–-

Agency: Agriculture

Discretionary spending: $22.2 billion

Percentage change from 2014: 7.9 percent decrease

Highlights: The recently-enacted five-year farm bill made some cutbacks to farm subsidies that the Obama administration has called for annually. But the administration would like that reform to go even further by scaling back crop insurance.

The budget proposes around a 15 percent cut in the $9 billion-a-year program, which partially subsidizes both the companies that sell crop insurance and farmer premiums. There will be little appetite for that reform in Congress, however, where funding for crop insurance has been a priority.

The bulk of the USDA budget is food stamps, which cost $80 billion last year, and money for farm subsidies and conservation programs. Together, those so-called mandatory dollars are expected to cost $123 billion on top of the $22.2 billion in discretionary spending, an 8 percent decrease from the 2014 budget year.

The budget would change the way money to fight wildfires is distributed, allowing USDA and the Interior Department to draw funds from a special disaster account when the cost of tackling fires exceeds their annual budget.

The Obama administration also proposed doubling dollars for broadband access the neediest, most rural communities and providing an extra $50 million to strengthen bee and other pollinator habitats. Many of the nation’s bees, needed to pollinate crops, have been disappearing in the last decade.

The budget includes extra $295 million not included in the budget numbers that would go to agricultural research, including a new laboratory in Athens, Ga.

USDA shares food safety oversight with the Food and Drug Administration. The Agriculture Department, which oversees meat and eggs, would see about a 1 percent decrease its $1 billion in annual funding. FDA, which oversees most other foods, would get a boost of $24 million to put a new food safety law in place.

–-

Story Continues →