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    Senate Marks up $17B Agriculture Appropriations Bill

    WASHINGTON - The Senate Appropriations' Agriculture Subcommittee marked up its $16.73 billion fiscal year 2005 appropriations bill this week, which is more than half a billion below last year's funding levels.

    WASHINGTON - The Senate Appropriations' Agriculture Subcommittee marked up its $16.73 billion fiscal year 2005 appropriations bill this week, which is more than half a billion below last year's funding levels.

    U.S. Department of Agriculture food safety activities received an increase of $109 million over fiscal year 2004 levels without including new "user fees" for meat and poultry inspection. The bill also includes $8.3 million for BSE-related expenses at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as $33 million for the USDA's animal identification efforts. The bill continues existing food safety research in addition to other agricultural research projects. To offset retail price increases, the committee provided a modest increase for WIC and food stamp programs.

    No amendments concerning country-of-origin labeling or food safety were offered during consideration. Senators Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Larry Craig, R-Idaho, offered an amendment that creates a general license to allow companies and other entities to market, promote, and sell products in and to Cuba. All sales must be on a cash basis and conducted by a foreign financial entity. The amendment was accepted and is nearly identical to a provision that was offered by Dorgan last year.

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