The $2.77 trillion budget proposals for 2007 that President Bush sent to Congress Feb. 6 continue to emphasize allocations for the nation's war on terrorism while reining in nonsecurity-related, discretionary spending.
Overall, the White House's spending priorities are on par with those of the past few years. The president has set out to eliminate or reduce 141 programs and cut nonsecurity discretionary spending by $2.2 billion from the fiscal year, which begins in October.
The president has asked Congress for $322 million to protect the nation's food supply and agriculture—a $69 million spending increase from the 2006 budget. Funding would go toward programs enhancing the Department of Agriculture's capabilities for detecting, responding to, and recovering from exposure to pathogens, pests, and poisonous agents.
Building on the $7.1 billion emergency supplemental request for a potential influenza pandemic submitted in November 2005, the president has asked for an additional $474 million to further improve readiness. This includes $57 million for the USDA to continue activities related to avian influenza preparations and prevention, including surveillance of wild and domesticated birds along with stockpiling of poultry vaccines.
Increases of $107 million for research by USDA scientists in such areas as food safety, emerging and exotic diseases, and animal genomics and genetics are proposed in the budget.
The president's budget plan also contains a proposal for Association Health Plans—a proposal supported by the AVMA that would allow employers to purchase health insurance across state boundaries to benefit from buying insurance in bulk. By allowing small businesses to band together and negotiate on behalf of their employees, AHPs would give working families greater access to affordable health care.
Other highlights from the president's budget include $14.8 million for the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service in the area of food safety; $945 million to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, of which $33 million is allotted for the National Animal Identification System; $12 million to APHIS Animal Care, with an additional $2 million for activities related to birds, rats, and mice; and $757 million to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.
In his budget message, President Bush stated, "As this budget shows, we have set clear priorities that meet the most pressing needs of the American people while addressing the long-term challenges that lie ahead."