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Witnesses:

Walter Ferguson, Confidential Assistant to the Administrator, Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service, USDA, responded to questions concerning the programs under the jurisdiction of ASCS.

Statements Filed:

None

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Thursday, March 8, 1979
Full Committee
Business Meeting
Recommendations of Budget Task

Force

Action Taken:

By show of hands vote of 2 yeas-15 nays Panetta amendment
to agricultural conservation program not agreed to.

-

Without objection, Marlenee amendment to water bank
program withdrawn.

-

Baldus amendment to beekeeper indemnity program approved
by unanimous voice vote.

-

By roll call vote of 16 yeas-18 nays Coleman amendment to
food stamp program not agreed to.

-

Weaver amendment on forestry research agreed to by a voice

vote.

-

By a unanimous voice vote Panetta motion to adopt the
budget proposals and recommend them to the Budget Committee
approved.

Acting Chairman de la Garza called the meeting to order to continue consideration of the Committee's recommendations to the Budget Committee on programs under the jurisdiction of the House Committee on Agriculture (see minutes of March 7 for action and charts).

Mr. Panetta moved to amend the budget for the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service by cutting the recommendation of the Budget Task Force of $250 million back to the 1979 figure of $190 million for agricultural conservation programs (page 14 of the detailed budget table). Discussion occurred and by a show of hands vote of 2 yeas-15 nays the amendment was not agreed to.

Mr. Marlenee moved to amend the water bank program by deleting the $8 million budgeted and discussion occurred. Without objection the Marlenee amendment was withdrawn.

Mr. Baldus moved to amend the ASCS budget recommendation by adding $4,890,000 to the beekeeper indemnity payment program (page 15 of the detailed budget table). Discussion occurred and by a unanimous voice vote the amendment was agreed to.

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Thursday, March 8, 1979
Full Committee
Business Meeting
Recommendations of Budget Task

Force

There were no questions on the Federal Crop Insurance program. The Committee discussed the Commodity Credit Corporation budget and Mr. Glickman clarified that a footnote would be added due to possible legislation.

Staff explained the budgets for the Soil Conservation Service, Federal Grain Inspection Service, Agricultural Marketing Service, and the Food Quality and Safety Service.

Discussion occurred on the Food and Nutrition Service: budget. Mr. Coleman offered the attached amendment to strike the upper limit of the range and keep the cap of the present law in the budget. Discussion occurred (see attached charts) and by a show of hands vote of 12 yeas-13 nays the amendment was not agreed to. Mr. Coleman requested a recorded vote and the Clerk was directed to call the roll. The vote follows:

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Thus, by a roll call vote of 16 yeas-18 nays the Coleman amendment was not agreed to.

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Thursday, March 8, 1979
Full Committee
Business Meeting
Recommendations of Budget Task

Force

Staff explained the provisions of the budgets for the Forest Service and the annexed budgets. Mr. Hopkins asked unanimous consent to return to the budget of the Commodity Credit Corporation and there was no objection. He discussed tobacco research and Mr. Wampler advised that he felt there was sufficient flexibility for tobacco research to be covered if the Administration would use it.

Discussion occurred on the Forest Service budget. Mr. Weaver moved to restore $10 million for forestry research (page 31). Discussion continued and by a voice vote the Weaver motion was agreed to.

Counsel explained the chart on legislative proposals which would impact on the budget.

Mr. Panetta moved that the Committee adopt the budget proposals before it and recomend them to the Budget Committee. By a voice vote the motion was agreed to.

Staff was directed to make necessary corrections to reflect the action of the Committee. Mr. Wampler asked that Members be given the customary time to file any additional views and there was no objection.

At 11:50 a.m. the meeting was adjourned, subject to the call of the Chair.

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Coleman Amendment

BUDGETARY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE FOOD STAMP PROGRAM

Poor program administration and weak accountability are responsible for almost a billion dollars or more of current food stamp program costs.

The President's FY 1980 budget proposes to lift the Congressionallymandated ceiling on funding rather than attack the real problems in the program.

If one takes just the midpoint of estimated savings by CBO for the following three items, at least $650 million can be recovered:

Midpoint of CBO
Estimated Savings

*

1. Retrieval of Benefits Issued in Error

$350 million

(GAO in 1977 charged that losses of more than $500
million annually occurred because of overissued
benefits caused by errors, misrepresentations and
suspected fraud by recipients and by errors of local
food stand offices. Current program error rate is
12%, meaning that approximately $700 million is
issued in error.)

2. Recourament

$150 million

(Discussed during consideration of the 1977 legis-
lation - would require that recipients whose
adjusted (tax) gross income exceeds twice the
applicable poverty level in a calendar year pay
back the excess. CBO estimates savings potential
of $124-162 million.)

3. Program Overlap

$150 million

(CBD estimates that the calculation of
food stamp benefits with the inclusion
of other domestic food assistance benefits
would save $100 - $200 million.

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With savings of this magniture the food stamp appropriation need
not be increased.

These estimates do not reflect inclusion of administrative costs.

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