Sugar farmers in 16 states would lose access to USDA marketing loans this coming year under one of the dozens of amendments House members will debate on USDA's fiscal-year 2024 appropriations bill.
The laundry list of amendments cleared by the House Rules Committee for debate would cut or eliminate funding for an array of programs and USDA agencies. The rule for debate on the bill, H. Res. 723, right now is set for a floor debate in the House while Congress still wrestles with whether to pass a short-term extension to keep the government from partially shutting down after Saturday.
One provision would block sugar cane and sugar beet farmers from receiving any non-recourse loans for their sugar in FY 2024. Non-recourse loans are typically allowed for commodities and USDA announces adjustments to the loan rates for sugar at the end of the fiscal year. The loan rates for sugar cane and sugar beets affect producers in 16 states. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., included an amendment that is set on a floor debate to prohibit sugar growers from accessing those loans.
The American Sugar Alliance issued a news release with a long list of farm organizations and union groups that oppose Perry's amendment.
The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) called on House members to reject the attack on the sugar-farmers' safety net.
"This amendment is an attack on thousands of hardworking American sugar producers," said Chuck Conner, president and CEO of NCFC. "It would not only put the more than 151,000 well-paying jobs in the U.S. sugar industry at risk but threatens the livelihoods of American family farmers and processors and would lead to replacing American-produced sugar with heavily subsidized foreign sugar. The amendment would result in job losses and economic instability, threatening to undermine the effectiveness of the 2018 farm bill."
Another provision in the bill would block USDA from using federal funds to oversee the 22 different checkoff boards under the oversight of the Agricultural Marketing Service. The Agriculture secretary appoints checkoff board members and AMS staff, though USDA notes that the agency's oversight is "paid by industry assessments." AMS signs off on contracts and financially audits the programs. Reps. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., and Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., introduced the amendment to cut off any USDA dollars for checkoffs.
Massie has a separate amendment that also would block USDA from using funds to mandate electronic identification eartags on cattle or bison. USDA proposed a rule earlier this year that would require official electronic ID tags for interstate movement of certain cattle and bison to help with tracking of animals in a foreign disease outbreak.
The House is moving to eventually take up a bill that will hold marathon floor debate on funding bills for USDA and FDA, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of State with its related agencies.
The funding bill for USDA also would block any work on rules tied to the Packers and Stockyards Act, a series of competitive injury measures that the department has proposed. That led to the National Farmers Union calling on its members to oppose the bill for blocking rules "that would protect family farmers and ranchers from anticompetitive and abusive practices in the meat industry."
Fruit and vegetable growers could be impacted by provisions that reduce the amount of fruits and vegetables that low-income women and children can access.
Other amendments that would see a floor debate would provide aid to farmers in Vermont impacted by floods and support dairy producers affected by disasters in other states as well.
Among various agencies and programs that could see additional cuts, here is a list of amendments by lawmakers:
Reduce budget for USDA chief economist to FY 2016 level.
Reduce funding for USDA Office of Civil Rights by 50%.
Reduce Agricultural Research Service funding to FY 2020 level.
Reduce NIFA to FY 2019 funding level.
Reduce funding for Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
Reduce funding of the Food Production and Conservation Business Center to FY 2019 levels.
Reduce Natural Resources Conservation Service funding to FY 2016 level.
Reduce USDA Rental Assistance Program to FY 2019 levels or eliminate the program.
Cut the Rural Business Cooperative Service account by 50%.
Reduce Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) to FY 2019 level.
Reduce funding for Food for Peace by 50% or eliminate it.
Reduce funding for McGovern-Dole International Food for Education by 50% or eliminate it.
Eliminate funds for USDA Climate Hubs.
Eliminate any funds for the development of climate change or green energy initiatives.
End funding for the USDA Farmers Market.
Prohibit assistance to the government of Ukraine.
Prevent USDA from using funds for "woke courses, books and study guides."
Also, an amendment would reduce funding for the Commodity Futures Trading Corp to FY 2019, or 2018 level.
Another amendment would prevent USDA from closing FSA offices.
Then there are amendments by lawmakers seeking to force out certain officials by reducing their salaries to $1. There are a lot of those in the Department of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and the State Department, as well as FDA and USDA.
Rep. Laura Boebert, R-Colo., was among lawmakers who introduced such amendments. Among those, she sees to reduce the salary of USDA's deputy under secretary for Food and Nutrition, Stacy Dean, to $1. Boebert and Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., have a long list of these amendments naming officials whose salaries they want to eliminate.
Link to the debate rule, H. Res 723 and amendments: https://rules.house.gov/…
Also see, "Ag Secretary Stresses Risks of Government Shutdown on Farm Loans, Food Aid,"
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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