HOEVEN: AGRICULTURE APPROPRIATIONS BILL PROVIDES STRONG SUPPORT FOR PRODUCERS, RURAL AMERICA
As Chairman, Senator Worked to Protect Farm Safety Net, Invest in Ag Research & Rural Development
WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, today outlined the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which provides strong support for farmers and ranchers, agricultural research and rural communities. The legislation was approved today by the Agriculture Appropriations Committee and will now go to the full Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration on Thursday.
“Our farmers and ranchers provide our nation with the food, fuel and fiber necessary to meet our needs, and they do so in spite of challenges from low commodity prices to unpredictable weather,” said Hoeven. “We worked hard to ensure that this funding legislation supports the priorities of our producers and rural America. The investments made in this bill reaffirm our commitment to being at the forefront of production agriculture and to providing our rural communities the ability to compete – both here and abroad.”
As chairman, Hoeven secured funding for vital agriculture programs, including:
Support for Ag Producers – Maintains support for crop insurance and other farm bill programs. The bill also:
- Continues funding Hoeven’s Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) pilot program to allow for an alternate calculation method for crop payments when National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) data is insufficient.
- Maintains funding for the Hoeven Water Bank initiative, which provides compensation for farmers and landowners for flooded land through 10-year, voluntary conservation agreements.
- Fully funds the expected demand for farm direct and guaranteed and emergency loans.
- Prohibits the closure of Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices and provides funding to hire additional FSA loan officers.
- Includes the Acre-for-Acre Wetlands Mitigation language encouraging the USDA Secretary to use mitigation of a natural wetland and equivalent wetlands functions with the conversion rate of 1-to-1 acreage.
- Provides no less than $250,000 in Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) funding to reduce blackbird depredation in the Northern Great Plains.
- Includes School Pulse Crop language emphasizing the nutritional benefits of pulse crops for children and encouraging USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service to assist schools in sourcing and serving pulses.
- Increases funding for the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), to help provide producers with marketing opportunities for U.S. agricultural products.
Agriculture Research – $2.726 billion to support agricultural research conducted by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), including:
- Provides $405 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).
- Maintains formula research funding for land-grant universities.
- Provides $1 million in ARS funding for each of the following: Pulse Crop Health Initiative; Chronic Wasting Disease; Sugarbeets; Alfalfa Research; Small Grain Genomics. Maintains funding at $3 million for UAS Precision Agriculture and $8.7 million for the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative.
- Rural Broadband – Provides $425 million for the rural broadband loan and grant pilot program targeted to areas that currently lack access to broadband service.
- Rural Water and Waste Programs – To help address the $3 billion backlog in infrastructure needs in rural American, the bill provides $1.25 billion for rural water and waste program loans, $800 million for water and waste grants, and $19 million for the Circuit Rider program.
- Combating Opioid Abuse – Provides $59 million for the FDA to expand efforts to identify and interdict illicit drugs, such as fentanyl, at International Mailing Facilities. Provides $20 million for Rural Development Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants to help rural communities combat the opioid abuse crisis.
- Rural Electric Set-Aside – Includes language to allow Project Tundra and Allam Cycle to be eligible for the Rural Utilities Service Electric Loan Program.