WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Appropriations Committee today approved the FY2020 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies appropriations bill by a vote of 31-0. The legislation, which will support federal agriculture and nutrition programs in FY2020, recommends $151.7 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding, which is $87 million below the FY2019 enacted level. The discretionary funding in the bill totals $23.1 billion, $58 million above the FY2019 enacted level. Mandatory funding in the bill totals $128.6 billion.
The spending bill supports U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agriculture, rural development, conservation programs, and food and drug safety. It also provides essential nutrition assistance for children, families, and seniors, creates incentives for military veterans to enter careers in agriculture, and supports significant resources to combat the opioid epidemic.
“This bill funds our nation’s agriculture and nutrition programs and directly influences the quality of life in rural America. It provides our farmers and ranchers the support they need. This is a good committee product, and I thank Senators Hoeven and Merkley for working together to craft this legislation. It deserves the backing of the full Senate,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).
“Our producers are facing real challenges right now, which is why we worked hard to ensure that the FY2020 agriculture funding bill provides strong support for our farmers, ranchers, and rural America,” said U.S Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.), chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. “Good farm policy benefits every American, every day, and this legislation is just that. It provides our producers with important tools to run their operations, bolsters agriculture research and invests in our rural communities.”
Agricultural Research – $3.172 billion to support agricultural research conducted by the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. This amount includes $425 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, a $10 million increase over FY2019. Formula research funding for land-grant universities is maintained at FY2019 enacted levels. The bill also rejects proposed extramural research project terminations and laboratory closures included in the budget request.
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) – $1.028 billion for APHIS, $16 million above the FY2019 enacted level. Overall funding will continue programs to control or eradicate plant and animal pests and diseases that threaten U.S. agriculture production. The bill provides investments in the science program for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility and also provides increases to address pre-departure inspections of agriculture imports and tree pests.
Natural Resources Conservation Service – $835.2 million, $15 million above the FY2019 enacted level, for conservation operations to help farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners conserve and protect their land. The bill also includes $175 million for the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations program to support needed investments in rural communities.
Farm Service Agency (FSA) – $1.128 billion for FSA for various farm, conservation, and emergency loan programs important to the nation’s farmers and ranchers. This includes $35 million to assist with implementation of the 2018 farm Bill. It also prohibits the closure of FSA county offices and provides resources for information technology (IT) improvements and personnel across county offices.
Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) – $1.054 billion, a $5 million increase form the FY2019 enacted level. The bill fully funds the food safety and inspection programs that ensure safe and healthy food for American families. The bill promotes the safety and productivity of the nation’s $186 billion meat and poultry industry by supporting more than 8,000 frontline inspection personnel for meat, poultry, and egg products at more than 6,400 facilities in the United States.
Rural Development – $3.1 billion for Rural Development (RD) to support RD’s mission areas, including:
- Water & Electric Infrastructure – $1.45 billion for rural water and waste program loans, the same as the FY2019 enacted level; $400 million for water and waste grants and $19.5 million for the Circuit Rider program. The bill also provides $6.94 billion for rural electric and telephone infrastructure loans and $64 million for Distance Learning /Telemedicine and Broadband grants.
- Rural Housing Loans and Rental Assistance – $24 billion in loan authority for the Single Family Housing guaranteed loan program, equal to the FY2019 enacted level and the President’s request. It includes $1 billion for the direct loan program, which provides low-income rural families with home loan assistance. In addition, $1.375 billion is provided for rental assistance for affordable rental housing for low-income families and the elderly in rural communities for renewal of all existing rental assistance contracts.
- Business and Industry Loans – The legislation supports $1 billion in grants and loans for rural business and industry programs that promote small business growth in rural areas. The bill includes funding for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative to improve access to affordable, healthy foods in underserved areas.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – $3.148 billion in discretionary funding for the FDA, $80 million over the FY2019 enacted level. Overall, total FDA funding, including user fee revenues, is $5.76 billion, which is $180 million above FY2019. The bill provides $80 million for medical products, food safety activities, and infrastructure needs. The bill also provides $75 million as authorized in the 21st Century Cures Act.
Food and Nutrition Programs – The bill provides discretionary funding, as well as mandatory funding required by law, for food and nutrition programs within the USDA. This includes funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Child Nutrition programs.
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) – $6 billion in discretionary funding for WIC, which is $75 million below the FY2019 enacted level. This amount is based on USDA estimates of WIC enrollments and will provide benefits for all eligible participants.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – $69.163 billion in required mandatory spending, which is outside the discretionary funding jurisdiction of the Senate Appropriations Committee, for SNAP. Due to declining enrollment, this is $4.3 billion below last year’s level.
- Child Nutrition Programs – $23.6 billion in required mandatory funding, which is outside the discretionary funding jurisdiction of the Senate Appropriations Committee, for child nutrition programs. This funding will provide meals for an estimated 31 million children. In addition, $58 million in discretionary program funds are also included for equipment grants and Summer EBT Demonstration.
International Programs – $1.716 billion for Food for Peace grants, which support the delivery of American-grown food to foreign countries experiencing chronic hunger crises. The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program is funded at $210.255 million and includes $15 million for the Local and Regional Food Aid Procurement at the Foreign Agriculture Service.