Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Hoeven, R-N.D., said Tuesday that the Senate version of the fiscal year 2021 Agriculture appropriations bill fully funds farm loan programs, supports rural innovation and bolsters agricultural research.
The funding package for agriculture is part of a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill that would fund government agencies for fiscal-year 2021, which began in October. Right now, federal departments are operating under a continuing resolution that extended funds to agencies that expires Dec. 12.
“As chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations, we've worked to put together a strong agriculture funding bill that provides our farmers and ranchers with the support they need during these challenging times,” Hoeven said. “We also worked to include resources to bolster innovation in rural areas like North Dakota's Grand Farm and to invest in agriculture research like the good work done at our research institutions. We hope Congress approves this important agriculture funding soon.”
Hoeven said the bill's provisions to aid farmers and ranchers include:
-Maintaining support for crop insurance and other farm bill programs.
-Increasing funding for farm direct, guaranteed and emergency loans to meet the expected demands.
$4 million for the Hoeven Water Bank initiative, which provides compensation for farmers and landowners for flooded land through 10-year, voluntary conservation agreements.
$5 million for the Wetland Mitigation Banking program, providing an important resource for farmers to remain conservation compliant.
-Prohibiting the closure of Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices and providing resources for IT improvements and personnel across county offices.
$250,000 for blackbird depredation in the Northern Great Plains through APHIS.
$10 million for the Farm and Ranch Assistance Network to provide producers access to mental health support and resources.
$3 million for Agriculture Innovation Centers that provide technical and business development assistance to agricultural producers seeking to engage in making or producing Value-Added agricultural products.
-Including Risk Management Agency (RMA) report language regarding cover crop haying and grazing, and corn test weight.
-Providing strong funding for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) management, including: $6 million for APHIS CWD funding to State Wildlife and State Departments of Agriculture (an increase of $1 million); $2 million for APHIS to expand and collaborate on new CWD research activities, including transmission pathways and the prevention of future conflicts between humans and cervid populations; $4 million for APHIS' Cervid Health Activities.
Hoeven said the bill “provides strong support for agricultural research conducted by the Agriculture Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)” because it maintains formula research funding for land-grant universities and increases ARS funding, including:
$1.5 million increase for sugarbeet research.
$1 million for a new barley pest initiative.
$1 million increase for unmanned aerial systems in precision agriculture applications research.
$1 million increase for National Pulse Crop Research Programs.
$1 million increase for the Pulse Crop Health Initiative.
Maintain funding for chronic wasting disease research.
Maintain funding for the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative.
Hoeven said the bill also “supports rural America” because it:
Provides $400 million for the ReConnect Broadband Pilot.
Provides $5 million for RISE grants to fund job accelerators in rural areas.
Maintains funding for the Grassroots Source Water Protection Program.
Maintains funding for Rural Electric Guaranteed Loans, Rural Cooperative Development Grants and Rural Business Development Grants.
Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., noted that he and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., had released the draft bills and explanatory statements for the 12 fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills together.
“Chairman Shelby and I agree on the importance of completing our work on the 12 bills before the continuing resolution expires on December 11,” Leahy said.
“I am very disappointed that the majority chose to cancel committee mark-ups of the FY 2021 bills and that the bills were not considered by the full Senate, eliminating the ability of members to offer amendments,” Leahy said. “However, our goal is to work with the House to conference all 12 appropriations bills and avert a government shutdown. We only have four weeks to do it. In order to accomplish our work, we need Senate bills to work from.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Monday that the House expects to take up an omnibus appropriations measure in early December “to fund the government for the remainder of FY2021 and prevent a government shutdown on December 11, when the current continuing resolution expires.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said last week he wants to pass all 12 appropriations bills before December 11, even though the Senate has not passed a single appropriations bill.
Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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