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Agricultural News


Long-awaited Wins for Sustainable Agriculture Finally Delivered in FY 2019 Appropriations Bill

Fri, 15 Feb 2019 05:15:57 CST

Long-awaited Wins for Sustainable Agriculture Finally Delivered in FY 2019 Appropriations Bill
   

"Minibus" increases funding for core sustainable agriculture programs, rejects Administration's planned relocation of USDA research agencies

After months of suffering through the longest government shutdown in history, America's family farmers and ranchers are finally seeing movement on a new agriculture spending bill. Today, the House and Senate reached an agreement on a fiscal year (FY) 2019 spending package for the seven appropriations bills not yet signed into law.

The bill makes historic investments in sustainable agriculture research, prioritizes funding for farmer food safety training, value-added agriculture, military veterans and farmers of color, and protects essential conservation programs. Given the 2018 Farm Bill's passage at the end of last year, this funding is particularly critical in order begin implementation of numerous new or modified programs and policies.

“We applaud Congress, and in particular the members of the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees, for producing and passing an appropriations bill that continues to advance sustainable agriculture as a priority,” said Alyssa Charney, Senior Policy Specialist at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). “After enduring months of uncertainty and lapsed program funding resulting from the partial government shutdown, America's farmers and rural communities are finally going to see long-awaited funding increases for sustainable agriculture programs become reality. NSAC thanks Congress for furthering investments in sustainable agriculture programs and priorities, and we urge the President to sign this funding package into law as soon as possible."

The final funding package sets strong funding levels for each of NSAC’s top appropriations priorities for FY 2019:

• Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program: $37 million appropriated. This represents a six percent increase from FY 2018 and the highest funding level in the program’s 30-year history.

• Farm Bill conservation programs: No cuts to farm bill conservation programs for the second year in a row, which is critically important in the first year of implementation under the 2018 Farm Bill.

• Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers program: $3 million in discretionary funding appropriated in addition to $15 million in farm bill funding provided under the newly established Farming Opportunity Training and Outreach program.

• Food Safety Outreach Program: $8 million appropriated. This represents a $1 million (14 percent) increase in funding for farmer food safety training.

• Value-Added Producer Grants: $15 million appropriated, plus an additional $2.5 million for technical assistance. This amount is level with FY 2018, and meets NSAC’s request. VAPG is also provided with $17.5 million in FY 2019 under the 2018 Farm Bill's new Local Agriculture Market Program.

• Conservation Operations and Technical Assistance: $819 million appropriated. Combined with $70.8 million in funding that was moved to the business center within the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm Production and Conservation mission area, this represents a $15 million increase above last year's funding levels.

• Farm Service Agency Loans: Level funding from FY 2018. NSAC will continue to work to ensure the available funding reflects demand, especially following changes made to loan caps in the 2018 Farm Bill.

“In addition to providing for these funding priorities, we would also like to thank appropriators for including language in their bill opposing USDA’s plan to relocate and reorganize the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)," said Charney. "The inclusion of this strong opposition language reflects the real and justified concerns raised by NSAC and other stakeholders over the hasty manner in which this plan was formed and executed. We are pleased that the spending bill is clear in directing USDA to indefinitely delay the reorganization of ERS under the Office of the Chief Economist, and also that it demands that USDA provide a detailed analysis and cost estimates of the proposed relocation of both agencies.”

 

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