This week, the Senate and House Agriculture Committees sent a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (JSCDR) stipulating that they will recommend a $23 billion cut to mandatory spending within the committees’ jurisdiction (the Committees will finalize a legislative package that achieves these cuts by November 1, 2011). The AVMA also recently sent a letter to the JSCDR encouraging members to spare the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Food Safety Inspection Service, Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, as well as the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the Food and Drug Administration work from further cuts citing that any deeper cuts could severely hamper and put at risk the nation’s food supply.
The bipartisan and bicameral 12-member JSCDR, established under last summer’s budget-debt ceiling deal, is charged with identifying significant savings in federal programs in order to reduce our nation’s annual deficits and national debt. The national debt stands at over $14.8 trillion as the Joint Committee seeks to find at least $1.2 trillion in deficit savings over the next 10 years. While JSCDR will hold its third public hearing on October 26, much of its work has been behind closed doors and members have been careful to ensure leaks of internal disputes are kept to a minimum. The third public hearing will feature Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf’s testimony on “discretionary outlays, security and non-security.” The previous two public hearings focused on overhauling the tax code and issues driving the federal debt. The committee has until November 23 to present its recommendations to congress which is required to accept or reject the bi-partisan plan without amendment in an up-or-down vote by December 23. To learn more about JSCDR visit http://www.deficitreduction.gov/public/.
The AVMA GRD continues to monitor the discussions and push to maintain funding levels for agriculture research, animal health and food safety programs.