The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 29 to one Wednesday to approve its fiscal year (FY) 2012 Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) appropriations bill. The measure contains $19.78 billion in discretionary spending -- $138 million below the statutory FY 2011 level, but nearly $2 billion more than discretionary program spending in the House-passed bill, the committee's news release says.

The committee set trade development and promotion expenditures at $200 million for the Market Access Program and $34.5 million for the Foreign Market Development Program.

The bill provides $6.582 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) compared to $6.734 billion in FY 2011. The decrease from FY 2011 is due to lower program participation rates than originally estimated, the committee said.

Conservation operations for the Natural Resources Conservation Service would be funded at $828 million, a $43 million reduction from the FY 2011 level of $871 million.

Food-aid funding includes $1.562 billion for PL 480 Title II, compared to $1.5 billion in FY 2011, and $188 million for the McGovern-Dole school feeding program for poor children, compared to $199 million in FY 2011.

Earlier this year, USA Rice Federation submitted its FY 2012 requests to the Senate's agricultural appropriations subcommittee, including funding for trade development and promotion, conservation, WIC, and food-aid programs.