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From fuel cell cars to slaughterhouse inspection: Where the money goes

(Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- NY Times, 02/04/03:

Department of Agriculture

The president proposed a modest increase of $1.4 billion for the Agriculture Department, adding money to programs to improve domestic security and food safety.

The $74 billion budget includes a $42 million increase for food safety after a record year of recalls of tens of millions of pounds of meat suspected of contamination. The money will help pay for more inspectors at slaughterhouses and for better microbial testing.

Although the administration said it would ask for a $43 million increase in a program to feed poor women and infants, the budget also anticipates saving an unspecified amount of money by winnowing out children considered ineligible for free lunches.

The administration also wants to cut back some conservation programs that are part of the $174 billion farm bill passed into law last year.

While the World Trade Organization will soon debate how to reduce the huge cotton and grain subsidies given to American and European farmers at the expense of poor farmers in Asia, Africa and Latin America, the administration protected that money.

Instead, the administration recommended cutting nearly $100 million from the program that helps farmers create and preserve wetlands. It would also eliminate about $38 million from a program to help farmers respond to growing demand for organic food.

A program to reward farmers for improving water and air quality and protecting wildlife habitat would be cut by $5.2 billion over 10 years. ELIZABETH BECKER