Appropriations Committee Releases Fiscal Year 2021 Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA Funding Bill

July 5, 2020
Press Release
Legislation provides $23.98 billion in discretionary funding, investing in rural community infrastructure, domestic and international food programs, programs that serve farmers and ranchers, agriculture research, and oversight of the commodity futures market

WASHINGTON — The House Appropriations Committee today released the draft fiscal year 2021 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies funding bill, which will be considered in subcommittee tomorrow.

The legislation funds agencies and programs within the Department of Agriculture, the Farm Credit Administration, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Food and Drug Administration.

Total discretionary funding in the legislation is $23.98 billion, an increase of $487 million above the FY 2020 enacted level. In total, the bill allows for $153 billion in both discretionary and mandatory funding, an increase of $331 million above the FY 2020 enacted level. 

The bill prioritizes important agricultural and food programs and services, including food and medical product safety, animal and plant health programs, rural development, farm services, agricultural trade, financial marketplace oversight, and nutrition programs, both domestic and international.

“Once again, our bill rejects the Administration’s drastic cuts and instead builds on the four COVID-19 supplemental bills Congress passed this spring by providing funding increases for our rural communities, vulnerable populations, and essential workers,” said House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Chairman Sanford Bishop, Jr. “Our bill blocks two unconscionable SNAP rules designed to restrict program eligibility during a pandemic that has made it even harder for American families to put food on the table. Our bill increases broadband funding to ensure everyone is connected to the economy and increases funding for agricultural research to keep American agriculture the best in the world.”

“The coronavirus pandemic has made it abundantly clear that we must do more to address America’s food security crisis and to strengthen struggling rural communities that are now reeling from the pandemic and the ensuing recession,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey. “While the Trump administration’s budget would gut critical investments in vulnerable populations and rural communities at a time of great need and uncertainty, our fiscal year 2021 bill provides strong funding and protections to help put nutritious food on people’s tables and increases investments in broadband to connect more Americans to work, school, health care, and friends and family. The bill will reduce disparities made worse by the pandemic and will help bolster communities through and beyond the crisis.”

A summary of the draft fiscal year 2021 Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA bill is below. The text of the bill is here. The subcommittee markup will be webcast live and linked from https://appropriations.house.gov/events/markups.

Bill Summary:

Rural Development and Infrastructure – The bill provides a total of more than $4.214 billion for rural development programs. These programs help create an environment for economic growth by providing business and housing opportunities and building sustainable rural infrastructure for the modern economy.

  • Rural Broadband – The legislation invests over $1.055 billion, an increase of $435 million above the FY 2020 enacted level, in the expansion of broadband service to provide economic development opportunities and improved education and healthcare services. This includes $990 million for the ReConnect program. These significant investments in broadband reflect a commitment to enabling Americans in rural communities to access digital tools necessary to improve health, educational, and economic outcomes.
  • Critical Infrastructure – The legislation includes responsible investments in infrastructure to help rural areas of the country access basic utilities. This includes $1.45 billion for rural water and waste program loans, and over $610 million in water and waste grants for clean and reliable drinking water systems and sanitary waste disposal systems. An additional $6.9 billion in loan authority is provided for rural electric and telephone infrastructure loans.
  • Rural Housing Loans and Rental Assistance – The bill provides a total of $24 billion in loan authority for the Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program. The bill includes $1 billion in direct single family housing loans, meeting the estimated need for these loans, which provide home loan assistance to low-income rural families, many of whom would have few loan options for purchasing a home because of their geographical location. In addition, a total of $1.450 billion is provided for rental assistance and rental vouchers for affordable rental housing for low-income families and the elderly in rural communities for renewal of all existing rental assistance contracts.

Food and Nutrition Programs – The legislation contains discretionary funding, as well as mandatory funding required by law, for food and nutrition programs within the Department of Agriculture. This includes funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and child nutrition programs.

  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) – The bill provides $5.75 billion in discretionary funding for WIC, which is $298 million above the budget request.  
  • Child nutrition programs – The bill provides for $25.131 billion in mandatory funding for child nutrition programs. This is an increase of $1.516 billion above the FY 2020 enacted level. This funding will provide free or reduced-price school lunches and snacks for children who qualify for the program. The bill provides $552 million for the Summer Food Service Program to ensure low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. In addition, the bill provides $50 million for the Summer EBT program, $35 million for school kitchen equipment grants, and $15 million for school breakfast expansion grants.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – The bill provides for $68.277 billion in required mandatory spending for SNAP. This includes $3 billion for the SNAP reserve fund.

International Food Assistance Programs – The legislation contains $2 billion for international food aid and to promote U.S. agricultural exports overseas. This includes $1.775 billion for Food for Peace grants and $235 million for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition program. These programs work to reduce famine and increase food security overseas.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – The FDA receives a total of $3.212 billion in discretionary funding in the bill, an increase of $40.8 million above the 2020 enacted level. Total funding for the FDA, including revenue from user fees, is $5.99 billion. Within this total, the Committee provides targeted increases for medical product and food safety activities, including new initiatives to advance new influenza vaccine manufacturing technologies, support for a new, crosscutting activity enhancing food and medical product safety and includes funding to develop a framework for regulating CBD products.  In addition, the bill includes a strong focus on continuing FDA’s efforts to enable faster responses to foodborne illness outbreaks and increase the safety and cybersecurity of medical devices. The bill also appropriates $70 million to accelerate medical product development as authorized in the 21st Century Cures Act.

Food Safety and Inspection Service – The legislation includes $1.087 billion for food safety and inspection programs. These mandatory inspection activities help ensure the safety and productivity of the country’s meat and poultry industry, and keep safe, healthy food on American tables. The funding provided will maintain nearly 8,800 frontline inspection personnel for meat, poultry, and egg products at more than 6,400 facilities across the country.

Marketing Programs – The bill provides $190 million, $2 million above 2020 and $42 million above the request, to facilitate the movement of agriculture products and open market opportunities. This includes $18 million for the National Organic Program to protect the integrity of the USDA Organic label and $16.5 million for the new hemp production program. The bill also provides $20 million in discretionary funds to the Agricultural Marketing Service and Rural Development for the Local Agriculture Market Program to continue supporting local food and value-added agriculture.

Farm Programs – The legislation provides $1.835 billion for farm programs, which is $30.3 million above the fiscal year 2020 level. This includes $5 million to resolve ownership and succession of farmland issues, also known as heirs property.  This funding will continue support for various farm, conservation, and emergency loan programs, and help American farmers and ranchers. It will also meet estimates of demand for farm loan programs.

Animal and Plant Health – The legislation includes $1.07 billion – $27 million above the fiscal year 2020 enacted level – for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. This funding will support programs to help control or eradicate plant and animal pests and diseases that can be crippling to U.S. producers. The funding level provides increases that will help address harmful pests and diseases such as spotted lanternfly and chronic wasting disease, and support the growing needs of veterinary biological products such as vaccines and diagnostic tests. while maintaining increases from past years for citrus greening. 

Conservation Programs – The bill provides $1 billion to help farmers, ranchers, and other private landowners conserve and protect their land. This includes $167 million for infrastructure for watershed and flood prevention and watershed rehabilitation projects.

Agricultural Research – The bill provides $3.3 billion – $90 million above the fiscal year 2020 level – for agriculture research programs, including the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). This funding will support research at all ARS facilities to help mitigate and stop devastating crop diseases, improve food safety and water quality, increase production, and combat antimicrobial resistance. This funding also includes important research investments in U.S. land-grant colleges and universities, including a significant increase for the 1890 institutions, and for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s premier competitive research program.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) – Included in the bill is $304 million for the CFTC, which is the same as the request.

Bill language

  • The bill includes language to block the Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents final rule (ABAWD) and the Standard Utility Allowance rule (SUA) proposed rule.
  • The bill includes language to block USDA from granting line-speed waivers at meat processing facilities during the public health emergency.
  • The bill includes language requiring the Secretary to submit to the Committee documents the Department cited as the basis for its decision to cancel the Forest Service application for the Rainy River Watershed Withdrawal in Minnesota.
  • The bill continues language allowing the Secretary to waive matching fund requirements for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative.

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Issues: 
116th Congress