Last week, the House Appropriations Committee passed on a 31-18 vote the fiscal 2015 funding bill for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies.

The bill totals $20.9 billion in discretionary funding, which is equal to the fiscal 2014 level. Including discretionary and mandatory funding for nutrition programs, the complete bill totals $142.5 billion.

Much of the discussion last Thursday was centered on national school nutrition standards, with the approved bill containing a provision requiring USDA to grant waivers from school meal nutrition requirements to any schools that have suffered financial losses in the program for six months. The nutrition standards fulfill a 2010 mandate by Congress to encourage consumption of more whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

The committee rejected an amendment offered by Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, to grant USDA the ability to implement certain burdensome provisions from the 2008 Farm Bill related to the Grain Inspection and Packers and Stockyards Act (GIPSA).

Lawmakers said USDA ignored congressional intent when writing a 2010 GIPSA rule and that certain sections of the rule, such as ones defining “competitive injury” and “undue and unfair preferences” related to livestock purchase negotiations, should not be promulgated because of their economic significance. NPPC has been instrumental in pushing back the GIPSA rule since 2010. Also included in the bill is funding for research on the porcine endemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) to better understand the transmission of it.

An amendment offered by Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., added language to encourage compliance with FDA’s 2012 “Scientific Integrity" policy and directs the FDA commissioner to ensure that agencies comply with the policy. This means FDA must use “hard science” when considering to approve or disapprove a product.