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Senate passes budget deal, setting up appropriations process

The Senate on Wednesday voted 64 to 36 to pass a House-Senate budget deal that will set the stage for the appropriations committees to get allocations by the end of the week and prepare a government funding bill by January 15, the date the current continuing resolution expires.

Nine Republicans joined all Democrats in approving the measure.

The House has already passed the budget deal and the Senate action will allow Congress to send the measure to President Barack Obama for his signature before he leaves this weekend to spend the holidays in Hawaii.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition said, “It is our strong opinion that some of the savings generated by replacing sequestration should be directed to the Agriculture Appropriations subcommittees to help build upon successful rural investments and reverse the trend of repeatedly shortchanging important programs due to unreasonable low allocations and sequestration.”

NSAC also said it “strongly opposes the two additional years of farm bill conservation program automatic cuts included in the budget deal.”

“We also oppose a provision in the budget deal that establishes a new, unprecedented user fee for farmers and ranchers seeking conservation technical assistance through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service,” NSAC said. “It is our fervent hope that the farm bill conferees will use the soon-to-emerge new five-year farm bill to replace these misguided budget deal provisions with better policies.”