August 1, 2022
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., on July 28 unveiled all 12 appropriations bills for fiscal year 2023. The FY 2023 appropriations bill for the Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration provides discretionary funding of $27.072 billion, an increase of $2.3 billion over fiscal year 2022.
“Our bipartisan funding legislation respects the hard work of farmers and ranchers and bolsters economic growth for our Made in America agriculture economy. We worked across party lines to increase our investments in rural development and conservation that support the long-term health of our working lands. This legislation increases funding for child nutrition programs, rural broadband, housing, utilities, and businesses. We also found common ground on the need to increase investments for the Food Safety Inspection Service and the Food and Drug Administration,” says Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., who is chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture.
On July 20, the House passed H.R. 8294, a package of six fiscal year 2023 federal funding bills, on a 220 to 207 vote, which included the ag funding. The House version included $27.2 billion, slightly more than the Senate version.
Related: House spending minibus avoids dangerous ag amendments
Following the House Agriculture Appropriations Bill, the Senate included language calling on USDA to implement an inflation adjustment on Administrative and Operating under crop insurance and provide equitable relief with regard to specialty crops. The House and Senate are now both on record in support of equitable relief for specialty crops as it relates to crop insurance.
The Senate’s version includes total funding for agriculture research is $3.9 billion, or a $248 million increase over fiscal year 2022. The bill provides $1.9 billion for the Agricultural Research Service, a $161 million increase over fiscal year 2022. The bill provides much needed increases for climate research and research to benefit all sectors of the agriculture economy, Baldwin notes. The bill also provides much needed funding to upgrade existing ARS facilities, many of which are outdated and hazardous.
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture is funded at $1.7 billion, an increase of $100 million over fiscal year 2022. It also includes a $10 million increase for the popular Agriculture and Food Research Initiative and a $5 million increase for the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education program to $50 million. The bill doubles the funding available for women and minorities in STEM fields, and it increases funding for both the Federally Recognized Tribes Extension program and for Children, Youth, and Families at Risk.
SARE is the nation’s only farmer-driven research program and has been a center of innovation in research and agriculture for over 30 years, says the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. The Conservation Technical Assistance Program is funded at $807 million, up from $759 million. CTA supports Natural Resources Conservation Services staff as they conduct on-the-ground conservation work. “This is a crucial investment in NRCS’ capacity to work directly with farmers on adopting conservation practices,” NASC says.
The bill provides $1.132 billion for NRCS, an increase of $126.8 million. This includes $926.6 million for conservation operations, including an increase of $20 million for the increased conservation technical assistance staffing. Watershed Flood and Prevention Operations receives an increase of $50 million over fiscal year 2022 for a total of $175 million, while the Watershed Rehabilitation program receives a $9 million increase for a total of $10 million.
The Farm Service Agency is funded at $1.221 billion, an increase of $48.2 million over fiscal year 2022. This includes $4 million for the Reimbursement Transportation Cost Payment Program for Geographically Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers, which reimburses geographically disadvantaged producers with a portion of the transportation cost for agricultural commodities or inputs. The bill also maintains funding of $7 million for the State Mediation Grant program and increases Direct Farm Ownership loans by $300 million to keep pace with increased demand.
According to the National Cotton Council, the bill includes $15.95 million (a $1.23 million increase from FY22) for USDA’s Cotton Pests account which funds the National Boll Weevil Eradication Program. The bill also includes an additional $1.35 million to expand research associated with cotton fiber quality and yield traits, and an additional $2 million for continued research on effective cotton genetics and management practices for improved cotton quality/production. Cotton seed bug and cotton blue disease research, as well as the three gin laboratories, all received level funding.
The world is seeing record global hunger, Baldwin says. In 2021 up to 828 million people went hungry and that number continues to rise. “In response, the bill provides $1.8 billion, a record level of funding, for the Food for Peace program and $250 million for the McGovern-Dole program,” according to a statement from Baldwin.
Dairy and livestock funding
The bill includes $250 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Agriculture Quarantine Inspection Program or AQI. This funding supports joint effort between APHIS and Customs and Border Protection to prevent the introduction of invasive species and diseases to the country. Because AQI is still experiencing reductions in fees collected due to the pandemic, this additional funding is necessary to ensure all international air and cargo vessels continue to be inspected.
The package also includes $25 million for the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives, which support dairy entrepreneurs and are helping dairy businesses to develop new markets, reduce costs and support the local farm economy. In other support for dairy producers, it provides $10 million for the ARS’s Dairy Forage Building. Due to cost overruns, the construction of the Dairy Forage Building has been delayed. This additional funding will allow the ARS to move forward with building construction. In addition, it provides $700,000 for ARS work to analyze dairy forage and soil health focused on the Midwest.
It also includes $1 million for ARS to continue to look at cover crop options for producers for use in Midwestern dairy and grain production systems.
The bill includes $14 million for the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, a key investment in the profitability of family farms and their long-term economic stability. However, NSAC says it was disappointed in the level of funding for the GLCI remaining flat.
“GLCI provides local and regional resources for farmers and ranchers, established and beginning, who are interested in understanding and utilizing grazing management practices. These resources include technical support, education, rancher-to-rancher learning, and funding for partnerships between NRCS and grazing-focused organizations,” NSAC says.
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