Congressman Sanford Bishop

Representing the 2nd District of Georgia

CHAIRMAN BISHOP LEADS FY 2020 AGRICULTURE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE MARK-UP

May 23, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02), Chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, released the following statement regarding the subcommittee's passage of its Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 spending bill:

“We are proud that our first bill rejects the Administration’s drastic cuts and instead provides robust funding to assure that all Americans have access to safe, high quality, and low-cost food, medicine, and medical devices. We increased funding for vital infrastructure in rural communities, including broadband, water and waste water, community facilities, and fund agricultural research that will keep American agriculture the best in the world.

“This bill stresses our commitment to expand access to reasonably priced and quality food here at home and abroad. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC) are fully funded for expected levels of participation and we nearly doubled the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children program (Summer EBT) to ensure children are fed year-round. Amid the Administration’s proposed elimination of the Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole programs, we invested $2.3 billion in international food aid. We know that where hunger remains, instability spreads. Food security provides a solid foundation for peaceful communities and supports vital agricultural development.

“We increased funding for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the areas dedicated to fighting rare cancers, more efficient generic drug reviews, improving responses to foodborne illness outbreaks, and the continued implementation of the Food Safety and Modernization Act. These investments are designed to lower prescription drug costs and keep Americans healthy.

“This legislation also invests billions in our rural communities through the expansion of broadband service, rural water and waste programs, electric and telephone infrastructure, and housing loans and rental assistance.

“Our nation’s farms have been devastated this year, so we increased the farm loan programs’ funding to $1.802 billion, which is $126 million above the Administration’s request. This includes $30 million to help implement the 2018 Farm Bill. We also included funding for flood prevention, infrastructure for watershed, and watershed rehabilitation projects to safeguard communities from problems in the future.

“I am hopeful that this bill will have broad, bipartisan support in the full Appropriations Committee, and ultimately the full U.S. House of Representatives.”

Congressman Bishop’s full opening statement as prepared can be found below, as well as a list of highlights of funding levels and other key provisions in the FY20 Agriculture Appropriations Bill:

The meeting of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies is now called to order.  [Gavel.]

Let me welcome everyone. Before we begin, I want to take a moment to acknowledge and to celebrate the life of Farm Credit Administration Chairman, and former USDA undersecretary, Dallas Tonsager, who passed away this week. Many of us have worked with him over the years and his tireless work to improve rural communities and his commitment to public service are greatly appreciated by the Committee and by people all across this country. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.

Before us, today, is the Chairman’s mark for the fiscal year 2020 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The bill - and accompanying report - are products of a lot of hard work that began in January. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Chair of the full Committee, Ms. Lowey, and the Ranking Member, Ms. Granger. Certainly, I’d also like to thank Ranking Member Fortenberry, for being such a great partner this year, in producing this excellent bipartisan work product. Let me thank our staffs. We have incredible staff. The Majority Staff, Minority Staff and our personal staffs have worked together cooperatively and collaboratively, and have done a tremendous job.

We will have policy disagreements from time to time, but we all on this subcommittee understand that we share a joint obligation to the American people to do their business. Doing their business is not done in a Republican way or a Democratic way, but in an American way. I thank our colleagues on the other side of the aisle for working with us as cooperatively and collaboratively as they have done.

The subcommittee held eight hearings on funding and oversight matters regarding USDA and FDA, the rural economy and the administration’s proposed relocation of the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

This year, the subcommittee received more than 7,200 member requests. We worked in a bipartisan manner to include as many requests as possible. For subcommittee members, we had over 400 requests and we met 96 percent of them in whole or in part.

Our fiscal year 2020 allocation is $24.310 billion – four percent above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level. This is more than $5.1 billion above the budget request.

I’d like to take a moment to highlight the priorities and funding levels in this bill.

First, as Chairman, I’ve stressed the importance of investing in our rural communities. The bill provides nearly $4 billion for Rural Development programs, an increase of $290 from FY 2019. This includes $680 million for broadband programs to continue bridging the digital divide between urban and rural America. There is over $38 billion in loan and grants for rural housing, community facilities and water and wastewater infrastructure.

During a time of great uncertainty due to tariffs and natural disasters, this bill provides $1.8 billion for farm programs, including $30 million to assist the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill. It also prohibits the closure of county-level Farm Service Agency offices to ensure our farmers, ranchers, and producers receive high quality customer service.

The bill includes $829 million for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. This allows NRCS to maintain its core conservation mission and expand conservation efforts across the country. There is also $167 million for infrastructure for watershed and flood prevention and watershed rehabilitation projects.

The bill provides $3.3 billion for agriculture research to ensure America retains its role as the leader of global agriculture science. It also prohibits the use of funds for any relocation costs associated with the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Our hearing showcased a vast array of informed opinion, including expert witnesses with over 70 years of combined experience at the two agencies. All evidence this committee has received indicates that this is a bad proposal that jeopardizes the integrity of science and research at USDA.

The bill also rejects the proposed elimination of the Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole programs. It provides $1.85 billion for Food for Peace and $235 million for McGovern-Dole. These programs send American commodities all over the world to address global hunger and are an essential tool for diplomacy.

The bill fully funds the SNAP and WIC programs to meet expected participation in FY 2020. The bill includes a $2 billion increase in the SNAP reserve fund, which was requested by 86 members, a quarter of whom made it their number one priority.

Key nutrition program funds of interest to subcommittee members are well-funded.

  • The Summer EBT program is funded at $50 million, an increase of $22 million.
  • Healthy Food Financing Initiative is funded at $10 million, which is a 400% increase.
  • We also include $10 million for School Breakfast Expansion Grants, the first time this program has been funded since 2012.

For the Food and Drug Administration, the bill provides $3.26 billion in discretionary funding, which is $185 million above the FY 2019 level. Increased funding is dedicated to fighting rare cancers, laying the foundation for more efficient generic drug reviews, improving our response to foodborne illness outbreaks, and the continued implementation of the Food Safety and Modernization Act.

The bill funds the Commodity Futures Trading Commission at $315 million, a necessary and overdue increase.

Finally, I’m pleased that this bill provides funding for several new programs that were authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill, such as the 1890s Scholarship program, the Local Agriculture Market Program, Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach Program and the Competitive Research Equipment Grants program, to name a few.

In closing, I ask for your support of the bill. It is a strong bill that makes extremely important and necessary investments in our rural communities, farm programs, and vulnerable populations.

BACKGROUND & BILL HIGHLIGHTS

FY20 Mark: $24.310 billion

FY20 Request: $19.198 billion

FY19 Enacted: $23.310 billion

Nutrition Programs:

  • $71.1 billion in mandatory Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding, $2.024 billion above the request.
  • $50 million for the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children program (Summer EBT), nearly double the FY19 level.
  • $6 billion for the Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC).

Rural Development:

  • $3.943 billion for rural development programs, including:
    • $50 million for Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants which was spearheaded by Congressman Sanford Bishop and funded at $16 million more than last year.
    • Continued investments in broadband expansion including $550 Million for the Re-Connect program and $50 million for Community Connect grants.
    • $1 billion for single family direct loans.
    • $1.45 billion for rural water and waste program loans.
    • $655 million for water and waste grants for clean and reliable drinking water systems and sanitary wastewater disposal systems, an $18 million increase from FY19.

Research:

  • $3.257 billion – $387 million above the budget request – for agriculture research programs, including the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
  • This increases funding for land-grant colleges and universities, including a $35 million increase for the 1890s Institutes.

Food Safety:

  • $1.05 billion for food safety and inspection programs, $9 million above the request.

Animal and Plant Health:

  • $1.04 billion – $23 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level and $53 million above the request – for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

International:

  • $2.3 billion for international food aid and to promote U.S. agricultural exports overseas. This is $161 million above 2019 and $2.1 billion above the request.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

  • $3.26 billion in discretionary funding in the bill, $185 million above the 2019 enacted level and $14 million above the request.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC):

  • $315 million for the CFTC, which is the same as the request and $47 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level.