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Senate Committee approves ag appropriations bill

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee this week approved fiscal year 2012 legislation for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund discretionary agriculture and nutrition spending programs. The bill would provide $19.8 billion in discretionary spending, a decrease of 0.7 percent from current spending, compared with the $17.2 billion contained in the bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The American Sheep Industry Association and state sheep-producer associations worked specifically to increase the operations funding for USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Wildlife Services Agency and secured $72.5 million in the Senate bill to match the increased funding approved by the full House.

This funding for WS more than covers the lost earmarks for predator control that were removed last winter in the continuing resolution funding of 2011. Additionally, report language was included that specifically mentions predation and sheep as supported by Sen. Tim Johnson (S.D.).

Peter Orwick, ASI executive director, relays the importance of increased funding to WS operations and highlights the report language, "The committee is concerned with the ever increasing loses of livestock to predation. Predation continues to be the single largest cause of death loss of sheep, and losses of other livestock are rising. The committee urges the secretary to exercise all of his authority to address this economically devastating situation facing America's farmers and ranchers."

The committee approved the bill on a voice vote, and it now goes to the Senate floor.

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