Department of Agriculture Budget Request
COMMITTEE ON JOINT AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES
|Votes: View--> ||Action Taken: |
|Moved to draft a letter to the JBC expressing supp||PASS|
07:39 AM -- Department of Agriculture Budget Request
John Stulp, Commissioner of the Colorado Department of Agriculture, explained that eight programs of the Department of Agriculture will sunset in 2009 including the Pet Animal Care Facilities Act, the Measurement Standards Act, and the Seed Act. The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee conducted the sunset hearing on these programs on January 8, 2009. He introduced department staff attending the meeting and identified the major programs for the Colorado Department of Agriculture including the divisions of Markets, Inspection and Consumer Services, Animal Industry, Brand Inspection, Plants, Conservation Services, and the State Fair Authority (Attachment A). Additional information about these programs is available on the department's website at www.colorado.gov/ag. He explained that agriculture contributes $16 billion to the state's economy and employs 108,000, making it the third largest employer in Colorado. Colorado Department of Agriculture uses 0.1 percent of the state General Fund revenue.
Commissioner Stulp identified recent animal disease outbreaks in Colorado and he described programs administered by the Division of Animal Industry to address these outbreaks. The division also administer pet care, rodent control, and predatory animal control programs. He explained that the Brand Inspection Division duties include administering livestock brands, verifying ownership of livestock before sale, transportation, or slaughter, and facilitates the return strayed or stolen livestock, and it oversees alternative livestock facilities. He also explained that the State Fair Authority recently received a positive audit and that it is scheduled to pay off its debt for its Event Center in February 2009. The Conservation Services Division is responsible for conservation of soils, water, and other natural resources, controls noxious weeds, protects groundwater quality, and operates an insectary to develop biological controls for noxious weeds such as tamarisk. Commissioner Stulp described the programs administered by the Markets Division including fruit and vegetable inspection, marketing orders, Colorado wine development, and an international marketing program for livestock and other Colorado agricultural products. He also identified programs administered by the Plants Division including organic certification, pest control, and pesticide applicators regulation.
Commissioner Stulp described the Department of Agriculture's FY 2009-10 budget request for an appropriation of $41.2 million and 295 FTE including a request for $8.1 million General Fund and $28.2 million from fees. He also identified decision items requested by the department including 0.9 FTE for geographic information system, $55,000 for the Brand Board to pay for increased fuel costs, and $100,000 for a new measurement standards truck. He explained that the department proposes reducing its need for General Fundy money in FY 2008-09 by $477,000, primarily through vacancy savings and fee increases. The Office of State Planning and Budgeting (OSPB) also proposes to balance the state FY 2008-09 budget, in part, by transferring $500,000 from Brand Inspection Fund to the General Fund. Commissioner Stulp responded to questions about the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) staff recommendations for the FY 2009-10 budget.
John Reitan, Financial Officer for the Colorado Department of Agriculture, explained that the JBC did not act on the staff recommendation to eliminate the statutory caps on indirect costs for programs administered by the Inspection and Consumer Services. However, this recommendation may be addressed prior to figure setting for the FY 2009-10 budget.
Commissioner Stulp responded to questions about the department's proposal to reduce its General Fund appropriation for FY 2008-09 using a one time refinancing of the Matching Grants to Conservation Districts line item in the Conservation Board division FY 2008-09 budget. The request would reduce the General Fund appropriation by $150,000 and then backfill this reduction with moneys from the Agriculture Management Fund. He also explained that the department's FY 2009-10 budget request for one FTE in the Commissioner's Office for geographic information system (GIS) mapping support would be paid in part with General Fund, cash fund, and federal funds. The request also includes a 0.5 FTE to help the State Veterinarian's office with emergency planning, disease testing, and disease control efforts. Funding for this FTE would come from the General Fund. He also responded to questions about the impact of the hiring freeze on the department and explained that the department has submitted waivers for the State Veterinarian and other critical positions. There are currently 12 vacancies in department that the department is not requesting a waiver from the freeze. He also explained that the department is requesting that the JBC sponsor a bill to fully cash fund programs in the Inspection and Consumer Services Division.
Commissioner Stulp responded to questions about the possible use of the Colorado State University veterinarian hospital to assist the department with its animal disease testing and control program. He explained that the facilities are not duplicative and urged the General Assembly to continue funding the Department of Agriculture's Denver veterinarian laboratory.
Julie Zimmerman, Director of the Inspection and Consumer Services Division, responded to questions about the potential impact to agricultural produces if the Fertilizer, Feed, Large Scales, Measurement Standards, Farm Products, and Commodity Handlers programs are fully cash funded through fee increases. This request is part of the Governor’s budget balancing plan for FY 2009-10 and would result in a General Fund Savings of $1,314,136.
Senator Isgar described the provisions of draft letter to the Joint Budget Committee concerning the FY 2009-10 budget request for the Department of Agriculture (Attachment B). Committee discussion followed about the letter and whether it should be amended to oppose decreasing General Fund support for indirect costs related to programs in the Inspection and Consumer Services Division.
|BILL:||Department of Agriculture Budget Request |
|TIME: || 08:34:54 AM|
|MOTION:||Moved to draft a letter to the JBC expressing support for the Department of Agriculture's FY 2009-10 decision items including 1 FTE for GIS mapping support; $55,797 cash fund spending to offset increased fuel costs for brand inspectors, 0.5 FTE for State Veterinarian for emergency planning and disease control, and $100,000 to replace one of the measurement standards truck. The letter will also oppose the proposal to fully cash fund the programs in the Inspection and consumer services. If JBC drafts legislation to fully cash fund these programs, the letter will urge that the increase be repealed in 2 years. The letter will also oppose legislation to elimination of statutory indirect cost caps. The motion passed on a vote of 13-1. This letter will be drafted and circulated for the committee to sign. |
Not Final YES: 13 NO: 1 EXC: 6 ABS: 0 FINAL ACTION: PASS
Representative Curry requested that a letter be drafted to oppose the OSPB proposal to balance the state FY 2008-09 budget, in part, by transferring $500,000 from Brand Inspection Fund to the General Fund and oppose the JBC Staff recommendation to reduce the General Fund appropriation for FY 2008-09 using a one time refinancing of the Matching Grants to Conservation Districts line item in the Conservation Board division FY 2008-09 budget. The request would reduce the General Fund appropriation by $200,000 and then backfill this reduction with moneys from the Agriculture Management Fund. There was no opposition to drafting this letter which will be circulated for committee members to sign.
Commissioner Stulp responded to questions from the committee about the need for the decision item to appropriate $100,000 to replace the measurement standard truck.
The meeting adjourned