RANKING MEMBER BISHOP DELIVERS OPENING STATEMENT ON HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE MARKUP OF FY19 AGRICULTURE FUNDING BILL
May 17, 2018
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02), Ranking Member of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, delivered the following opening statement yesterday during the full U.S. House Appropriations Committee’s markup of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 funding bill for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and its farm and nutrition programs, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and related agriculture agencies. Congressman Bishop supported the legislation, which was reported out of committee in a vote of 31 to 21.
During the markup, the committee also passed Congressman Bishop’s amendment that maintains the availability of harm reducing nicotine vapor products, while also keeping them out of the reach of children through robust advertising and labeling rules, enhanced shipment age-verification, battery standards, and FDA funding for education and outreach.
The full legislation now awaits further consideration by the full U.S. House of Representatives.
Video and background on the full committee markup can be found here. Below is Congressman Bishop’s full statement as prepared, as well as bill background and highlights:
Thank you for yielding Mr. Chairman.
I want to start off by again saying thank you to you and our subcommittee colleagues for diligently working together, across party lines, to get us where we are today in this appropriations process. We tirelessly worked under an unusually short time frame and a budget request from the President that was so draconian it again met with bi-partisan opposition. Therefore, I am not only pleased, but I am proud that we, as a subcommittee, were able to reject so much if it outright to keep this country fed with the safest and most abundant food supply in the world.
This Fiscal Year 2019 agriculture bill was greatly helped by the 2 year budget agreement we are operating under and has received a slight increase (less than 1 percent) over last year’s enacted level. That said, it is $6.2 billion over the President’s request. This resulted in a bill that, while it is not what I would have written, is certainly better than the House bill we considered last year and much better than what the Administration would have given the American people.
Our communities need these programs more than ever and they need them to be funded robustly. With that Mr. Chairman, I want to emphasize that I am looking forward to us working together during the appropriations process to make necessary improvements to this bill before it is signed into law.
We will do some of that today, as we debate amendments on, among other issues, e-cigarettes, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and restricting horse slaughter.
With respect to this 2019 agriculture bill, I was pleased to see mandatory funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and child nutrition that is consistent with current estimates. I am especially pleased that it does this without including onerous legislative proposals made by the Administration, such as “harvest boxes.”
I was also pleased to see that the bill provides $1.5 billion for Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole is funded at $208 million, both of which were zeroed out by the President’s request. Food for Peace is funded below the 2018 level and McGovern-Dole is equal to it, but at least both programs are far above zero.
On the positive side, the bill provides $915 million for Research and Education activities, a $28 million increase over FY18, which includes funding for the 1890 historically Black land-grant institutions, as well as the Hispanic-serving and Native American tribal-controlled land-grant institutions. I am also pleased we were able to find funding for the Centers of Excellence at 1890 institutions. I believe these Centers will be great resources to the agriculture community, and they are now on their way to being fully realized.
While the Administration’s request for Rural Development was appalling, this subcommittee’s mark for rural America is an impressive improvement over the President’s plan for rural funding. The President’s budget proposal called for zeroing out several programs, including housing, business, and all but one waste water program, which could have proved disastrous for our small and impoverished rural communities. In contrast, this bill maintains the momentum we started building in FY 2018 to make investments in our rural communities. It also makes investment in broad band and telemedicine.
Turning away from the bill for a second; Mr. Chairman, I must point out that we have no full list of subcommittee allocations.
Marking up just one bill at a time without a full list of allocations leaves us effectively working in the dark. If history proves correct, we are again in danger of having a broken appropriations process. I would be remiss if I didn’t say that it will be unconscionable for any of us to help pass spending bills that shift burdens onto working families and the most vulnerable among us. Agreeing to subcommittee allocations bill by bill puts us at a great danger of doing just that.
Before I yield back Mr. Chairman, I would like to recognize the staff for all of their hard work and time put into this bill. From the Minority Committee Staff, I would like to thank Martha Foley and Angela Ohm, as well as Michael Reed and Joseph Layman from my personal office. From the Majority Committee Staff, I would like to thank Tom O’Brien, Pam Miller, Justin Masucci, Andrew Cooper, and Sarah Doese; and Brian Rell from Chairman Aderholt’s office.
I want to thank Chairman Aderholt for his hard work and his cooperative spirt and the subcommittee’s work. As we move forward, I thank our Ranking Member, Ms. Lowey, and Chairman, Mr. Frelinghuysen, for their efforts to help this committee move forward to benefit the American people and benefit our rural communities, our farmers, our ranchers, and our consumers who consume nutritious food in America.
Thank you Mr. Chairman and I yield back.
FY19 AGRICULTURE FUNDING BACKGROUND & BILL HIGHLIGHTS:
Notable Provisions Added During Full Committee Markup:
Food Deserts: I supported an increase in the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) by $1M for a total of $2M. HFFI helps provide access to healthy food in underserved areas and helps revitalize low-income communities.
Cole Bishop E-Vapor Provision: This provision maintains the availability of harm reducing nicotine vapor products, while also keeping them out of the reach of children through robust advertising and labeling rules, enhanced shipment age-verification, battery standards, and FDA funding for education and outreach.
1890 Centers of Excellence: I was able to secure $5 million specifically for 1890 Centers of Excellence, which provides support to small farms, ranches and forest landowners in high poverty areas; establishes a virtual center to support the science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and mathematics (STEAM) pipeline of students to meet future workforce needs; and helps satisfy the nation's need in the areas of international engagement and global food security.
SNAP Data Protection: I co-sponsored an amendment, passed on a voice vote, that adds bill language to protect SNAP retailers from disclosing data related to SNAP purchases.
10-20-30 Provision for Persistent Poverty Counties: I was a strong supporter of an amendment to help address Persistent Poverty Counties (PPCs), which continue to be a challenge in my district and in rural communities across the nation.
FY19 Mark: $23.273 billion ($14 million above the FY18 Enacted)
FY18 Enacted: $23.259 billion
$73.2 billion in mandatory Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding. While this is $794 million below last year’s level, it is consistent with current estimates.
$28 million for the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children program (Summer EBT), which is equal to FY18 and $5 million over the request.
$64.4 million for the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
$6 billion for the Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC).
$3.079 billion for rural development programs, including:
$35 million for Distance Learning, Telemedicine, Broadband grants, which was spearheaded by Congressman Sanford Bishop and funded at $5 million more than last year.
$1 billion for single family direct loans.
$1.45 billion for rural water and wastewater program loans.
$637 million for water and wastewater grants for clean and reliable drinking water systems and sanitary wastewater disposal systems
$3.1 billion for agriculture research programs, including the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
$1.05 billion for food safety and inspection programs.
Animal and Plant Health:
$998.4 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
$1.5 billion for Food for Peace ($216M below 2018) and $208 million for McGovern-Dole (equal to FY18).
Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
$3.120 billion for FDA, $308 million more than FY18.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC):
$255 million for CFTC, $6 million above FY18.