From the Kitchen to the Congress: A Child Nutrition Reauthorization Blog

Secretary Vilsack Testifies at Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing

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On June 4, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies held a hearing regarding USDA’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 appropriation request with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, Chief Economist Dr. Joseph Glauber and Scott Steele, USDA’s Budget Officer. Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Ranking Member Sam Brownback (R-KS), presided over the hearing, and were joined by Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Ben Nelson (DNE), Jack Reed (D-RI), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Arlen Specter (D-PA), Robert Bennett (R-UT), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Christopher Bond (R-MO), and Susan Collins (R-ME.) The Secretary urged the subcommittee to understand that the FY 2010 budget request had to be developed in a very rapid time frame when few policy people were yet in place at USDA.

Asked about the Philadelphia School Meal Program, Vilsack stated that he knows the importance of the program. He pointed to the decision to discontinue it having been made by the Bush Administration when Philadelphia was notified last December. He agreed that an abrupt ending is not correct, and he is looking for ways to help Philadelphia and other areas. He wants to work to find ways to make Philadelphia a model or a pathway for a national program. He would like to see a continuation of Philadelphia rolled into opportunities for other areas, not just Philadelphia. The Secretary’s testimony can be found through Related Links below. Additionally, the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee has now scheduled mark up of the fiscal 2010 USDA, FDA, Rural Development and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for next Thursday, June 11, at 3:00.

USDA Secretary Vilsack testimony