House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., announced that the draft fiscal year (FY) 2012 discretionary spending allocation for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is $17.25 billion, nearly $2.7 billion less than Congress' final FY 2011 amount.  Rogers also issued a schedule to debate appropriations bills, with May 24 and 31 set as the dates to mark up USDA and FDA budgets at the subcommittee and committee levels, respectively.

The allocations are subject to change until the FY 2012 budget resolution is officially adopted and the committee approves the final funding levels, Rogers said.

Discretionary USDA programs include the Women, Infants, and Children program, rural development loans and grants, research and education programs, and soil and water conservation technical assistance.  Allocations to 11 of the 12 House appropriations subcommittees were reduced from FY 2011, except for defense, which is $17 billion more than the current fiscal year.

In April, USA Rice Federation submitted FY 2012 appropriations requests to the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, opposing "any attempts to modify the farm-safety-net support levels" provided by the 2008 farm bill and encouraging the subcommittee and committee "to resist such efforts during the appropriations process."  USA Rice also urged maintaining current authorized funding levels for export market development programs and food aid, strong research funding, and adequate funding for USDA's Risk Management, Farm Service, and Natural Resource Conservation Service.