USDA BUDGET BOOSTS SPENDING

WASHINGTON -- Farm safety-net programs and homeland security come out winners in the Bush administration's proposed fiscal year 2003 budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, released by Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman.The budget proposes a $146 million increase for programs to protect the nation's food supply from animal and plant pests and diseases, strengthen food-safety programs and

WASHINGTON -- Farm safety-net programs and homeland security come out winners in the Bush administration's proposed fiscal year 2003 budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, released by Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman.

The budget proposes a $146 million increase for programs to protect the nation's food supply from animal and plant pests and diseases, strengthen food-safety programs and support specific research activities, Veneman said. The spending plan also provides greater resources for low-income citizens.

The additional resources, on top of $328 million in supplemental funds provided in the 2002 Defense Appropriations Act, provide the funding for additional border inspectors at ports of entry, increased security at federal laboratories, and new research into emerging diseases that threaten crops, livestock and the food supply, Veneman said.

Other highlights of the budget include:

Record funding for the Food Safety and Inspection Service at $905 million, a $28 million increase above 2002.

$2.3 billion to support ongoing research programs in priority areas such as new prevention and control strategies for emerging, reemerging and exotic animal diseases, including bovine spongiform encephalopathy and foot-and-mouth disease. Other research will support the development of biotechnology, industrial and bioenergy products, Veneman said.