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FY2007 Department of Agriculture Appropriations (3-7-06)

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The primary interests for the geoscience community in the Department of Agriculture appropriations are the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

The NRCS (formerly the Soil Conservation Service) works with conservation districts, watershed groups, and the federal and state agencies having related responsibilities to bring about physical adjustments in land use that will conserve soil and water resources, provide for agricultural production on a sustained basis, and reduce damage by flood and sedimentation. The NRCS, with its dams, debris basins, and planned watersheds, provides technical advice to the agricultural conservation programs, and through these programs, works to minimize pollution. The long-term objectives of the NRCS are to maintain and improve the soil, water, and related resources of the nation's nonpublic lands by reducing excessive soil erosion, improving irrigation efficiencies, improving water management, reducing upstream flood damage, improving range conditions, and improving water quality.

As the chief scientific agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the 1,700 ARS scientists stationed at about 100 locations in the United States and five other countries work to find -- and make available -- solutions to high-priority problems facing the nation's agricultural interests. The scientists work to protect and improve soil, water and other natural resources.

For analysis of hearings held by Congress on Department of Agriculture appropriations, click here.

Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 Department of Agriculture Appropriations Process


FY06 Enacted

House Action

Senate Action

U.S. Department of Agriculture (total)






Natural Resources Conservation Service






--Watershed Surveys and Planning






--Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations






--Watershed Rehabilitation Program






--Emergency Watershed Protection






Agricultural Research Service






--Research and Information






--Soil, Water and Air Sciences (Environmental Stewardship)






President's Request for FY 2007

The proposed fiscal year (FY) 2007 budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) totals $125.6 billion, a 5.5% decrease from the nearly $133 billion allocated in FY 2006. Within the overall budget, the Rural Development division is slated for the largest cut. The division would receive $14.4 billion, a reduction of $3.7 billion (-20%) from last year's levels. Significant decreases are also planned for several other divisions, including a $2.8 billion (-6%) reduction to a total of $43.4 billion for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, a $1.4 billion (-7%) reduction to a total of $7.7 billion for Natural Resources and Environment, and a $400 million (-15%) reduction to a total of $2.3 billion for Research, Education, and Economics.

Within the Natural Resources and Environment division, the Natural Resources Conservation Service is slated for a $358 million (-11.4%) cut from the FY 2006 enacted level of $3.1 billion. Much of this decrease comes from the elimination of the Emergency Watershed Protection Program, which received $300 million in FY 2006. The USDA budget document states, "These activities vary from year to year and it is very difficult to predict what actual needs will be. Emergency assistance will be evaluated and addressed as disasters arise." The request also eliminates two other watershed programs, Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations (funded at $74 million in FY 2006) and Watershed Surveys and Planning (funded at $6 million in FY 2006), as well as the Grasslands Reserve Program (funded at $54 million in FY 2006). Additionally, funding is halved to $15 million for the Watershed Rehabilitation Program. The largest increase would go to the Wetlands Reserve Program, with an increase of $153 million (+61%) from the $250 million in FY 2006 to $403 million in FY 2007. The Wetlands Reserve Program, a voluntary program that provides payments to landowners who retire cropland and restore it to wetlands, is part of the President's 2004 policy "to restore, protect, and enhance three million acres of wetlands over five years." The Conservation Security Program would also see a substantial increase, gaining $83 million (+32%) over last year's allocation of $259 million.

The budget request includes $1.0 billion for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), a $261 million (-20%) reduction from FY 2006. The administration proposes eliminating $146 million in congressional earmarks, while adding $57.7 million "to fund critical research priorities." Nonetheless, funds are decreased or remain stagnant for most of the ARS research programs, including livestock production, crop production and protection, food safety, and environmental stewardship. The only significant increase is allocated to Homeland Security, with a $48 million (+145%) increase from only $33 million in FY 2006 to a proposed $81 million for FY 2007. The Environmental Stewardship program, which focuses on research in soil, water, and air resource issues, is funded at $172 million. Despite an overall $2 million decrease for this overall program, some subprograms would receive small increases, including a $2 million increase to "reduce agriculture's vulnerability to drought and improve water quality," as well as a $3.2 million increase for research related to carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas measurements, and work on the administration's Climate Change Science Program.

USDA budget documents are available online.

House Action


The House of Representatives considers funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. Chaired by Representative Bonilla (R-TX), other subcommittee members include Representatives Kingston (R-GA), Latham (R-IA), Emerson (R-MO), Goode (R-VA), LaHood (R-IL), Doolittle (R-CA), Alexander (R-LA), DeLauro (D-CT), Hinchey (D-NY), Farr (D-CA), Boyd (D-FL) and Kaptur (D-OH).

Conference Committee Action


Appropriations Hearings


Sources: United States Department of Agriculture budget documents.

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at

Contributed by Jenny Fisher, 2006 AGI/AAPG Spring Intern.

Last Update March 9, 2006

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