On May 31, the House Agriculture Appropriations Committee passed its draft FY 2012 spending bill that would fund discretionary spending at $17.2 billion – a reduction of $2.6 billion (13.4%) from FY 2011. On the mandatory side, amendments were passed that would reduce the AGI limit for farm subsidies to $250,000 from $750,000 and use cotton direct payments to fund the $143 million the U.S. owes Brazil for damages to its cotton farmers. On the discretionary side, the bill reduces agricultural research by $354 million, prohibits funding for salaries and expenses to carry out two Energy Title programs (Biomass Crop Assistance Program and Rural Energy for America Program) and reduces funding for the Bioenergy Program in FY 2012 by $50 million.
The Federal Communications Commission has granted a conditional waiver to LightSquared, a company that plans to transmit satellite and terrestrial signals through thousands of new ground stations for a 4G network that would be a billion or more times powerful than GPS. This could cause severe interference for millions of GPS users. Corporate and governmental agricultural groups, including the U.S. Canola Association, have petitioned for the reversal of this waiver since farmers use GPS in precision agriculture to improve planting efficiency and increase crop yields.