Ag Policy Blog

House Votes to Cut USDA Climate Efforts, But Protects Checkoffs, Loans for Sugar, Eartag Rule

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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The House of Representatives spend most of Tuesday night and all-day Wednesday slugging through debate and votes on amendments to a bill that includes funding for USDA and FDA, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of State with its related agencies. House members had several votes, including one that supported the various commodity checkoff programs. (DTN file photo)

A threat to sugar farmers losing access to USDA marketing loans did not materialize after the amendment ended up not being offered for a floor debate.

The GOP-led House did move to squash funding multiple climate initiatives at USDA in a series of votes.

Congress is wrestling over whether to pass a short-term extension to keep the government from partially shutting down after Saturday. Senate leaders offered a short-term Continuing Resolution that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., supported. McConnell posted on social media that border agents would lose paychecks under a funding shutdown.

"Voting against standard, short-term government funding means blocking over $1 billion in paychecks for the CBP and ICE agents fighting Washington Democrats' border crisis. Keeping the government open is the only way to keep making progress on our nation's most pressing issues," McConnell tweeted.

The House of Representatives spend most of Tuesday night and all-day Wednesday slugging through debate and votes on amendments to H. Res. 723, which includes funding for USDA and FDA, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of State with its related agencies. Those departments make up a big chunk of federal spending, but the bill that was set up to pass the House would not garner support in the Senate or from the White House.

Looking at USDA's funding amendments, one provision would have blocked block sugar cane and sugar beet farmers from receiving any non-recourse loans for their sugar in FY 2024. The American Sugar Alliance issued a news release with a long list of farm organizations and union groups that oppose amendment. The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) called on House members to reject the attack on the sugar-farmers' safety net. The sugar amendment by Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., ended up not being offered on the floor.

The House had a few close votes Wednesday afternoon. Following President Joe Biden's executive order to create the Climate Corps, which would train and hire up to 20,000 people at USDA and Interior to work on climate issues, the House voted 217-216 late Wednesday afternoon to block any federal funding for the Climate Corps. That amendment was led by Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill., a member of the House Agriculture Committee.

Miller also had an amendment passed by voice vote to eliminate funding for USDA's regional climate hubs.

House members defeated an amendment 49-377 with strong bipartisan support that would have blocked USDA from using federal funds to oversee the 22 different checkoff boards under the Agricultural Marketing Service. Reps. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., and Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., had led the amendment. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) sent out a statement on Tuesday with 130 different agricultural and forestry groups opposing the effort led by Spartz.

House members also defeated an amendment by a 97-336 vote that would have blocked 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. That failed amendment was led by Rep Hageman, R-Wyo.

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.

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.

The House also approved by a voice vote to provide a $10 million appropriation for dairy business innovation initiatives.

Among various agencies and programs that could see additional cuts, here is a list of amendments by lawmakers:


Lawmakers agreed in a voice vote to prevent USDA from closing any FSA offices. Lawmakers also agreed on language that would ensure there is no ban on chocolate milk in schools.

The House agreed to ban USDA from buying electric vehicles.

The House also agreed not to allow any regulation passed by USDA that would result in an annual impact of more than $100 million on the economy.

Reduce budget for USDA chief economist to FY 2016 level.

Reduce Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) to FY 2019 level.

Reduce funding for McGovern-Dole International Food for Education by 50%.

Reduce funding of the Food Production and Conservation (FPAC) Business Center to FY 2019 levels.

Eliminate funds for USDA's regional Climate Hubs.


Reduce funding for USDA Office of Civil Rights by 50%. (failed 175-254)

Reduce NASS to FY 2019 levels (failed 119-307)

Reduce NIFA to FY 2019 funding level. (failed 106-323)

Reduce funding for Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). (not offered)

Reduce Natural Resources Conservation Service funding to FY 2016 level. (failed 86-343)

Reduce USDA Rental Assistance Program to FY 2019 levels or eliminate the program. (failed 89-341)

Cut the Rural Business Cooperative Service account by 50%. (failed 68-362)

Also, an amendment would reduce funding for the Commodity Futures Trading Corp to FY 2019 level. (failed 105-325)


These amendments were initially set up for floor debate but not offered.

Reduce Agricultural Research Service funding to FY 2020 level.

Reduce funding for Food for Peace by 50% or eliminate it.

Eliminate any funds for the development of climate change or green energy initiatives.

End funding for the USDA Farmers Market.


In a close vote, six Republicans joined 210 Democrats in a 2016-210 vote that defeated an amendment by Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., that attempted to prevent funding for USDA's Equity Commission.

Boebert was successful with an amendment to prevent USDA from using funds for "woke courses, books and study guides." That amendment passed 217-214.

Link to the debate rule, H. Res 723 and amendments:…

Chris Clayton can be reached at

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