Chair Bishop Statement at Subcommittee Markup of Fiscal Year 2022 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Funding Bill

2021-06-25 11:17

Congressman Bishop (D-GA), Chair of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's markup of its fiscal year 2022 bill:

Before us is the Chairman’s mark for the fiscal year 2022 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The bill and the accompanying report are the products of a lot of hard work. And this year, for the first time in over a decade, we included Community Project Funding.

Let me take a moment to express my gratitude for the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, Mr. Fortenberry. Over the past 3 years, we have developed a close working relationship. I appreciate his outside-the-box thinking to grow the agriculture family and to ensure these programs are working for everyone. Once again, in large part due to our close collaboration, and the collaboration of our staffs, we have developed a great bill that will help millions of Americans.

This year our subcommittee held 8 hearings, including one with Secretary Vilsack.

Our fiscal year 2022 allocation is $26.55 billion, compared to the fiscal year 2021 enacted level of $23.699 billion.

This bill addresses three overarching priorities.

First, by our estimate, the bill provides nearly $400 million in investments solely to ensure equitable participation in USDA programs, more than 16% higher than the administration’s impressive request.  Among those investments are increases at our 1890 and 1994 land grant universities, and Hispanic serving institutions. It also provides funding to improve program access to historically underserved communities and provides a healthy increase for USDA’s Office of Civil Rights, above the budget request.

Second, it provides nearly $350 million to address the impacts of climate change.

Third, it fully funds federal pay costs and rebuilds the leadership offices at USDA that have been decimated over the past several years.   These changes will ensure that program levels are not reduced by having to absorb pay costs and that they are properly managed.

Supporting our rural communities remains a top priority.  In total, the bill provides more than $4.43 billion in budget authority for Rural Development programs to fund critical infrastructure, such as water and wastewater systems, and rural housing needs. The bill invests more than $900 million for rural broadband expansion, including $800 million for the ReConnect program. Since 2019, more than 200,000 rural residents have gained access to broadband through these programs.

The bill also provides over $2.9 billion for farm and conservation programs. This includes $60 million to resolve ownership and succession of farmland issues, also known as the “heirs’ property” issue, which predominately affects black farmers and has led to the loss of millions of acres of privately held farmland.

The bill provides $3.3 billion for agricultural research.

The bill continues our steadfast commitment to our country’s long tradition of humanitarian assistance by including $1.74 billion for Food for Peace grants and $245 million for the McGovern-Dole program.

The bill fully funds the SNAP, Child Nutrition, and WIC programs to meet expected participation in FY 2022. For the first time ever, the bill provides additional protections for SNAP recipients by providing a “such sums” appropriations for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2022 to ensure SNAP does not run out of money.

In this bill, we provide $3.45 billion for the Food and Drug Administration. Within this total, there is an increase of $72 million to address the opioid crisis, rare cancers, and resume unannounced in-person inspections in the two largest foreign drug manufacturing countries. It also includes a $65 million increase to avoid or more quickly respond to food outbreaks and address heavy metals in baby food. 

And finally - the Community Project Funding requests. I really enjoyed reading through the requests and learning a little bit more about what is important back home for so many members. The bill provides funding for 111 projects, totaling about $203 million.

I ask for your support of this bill.

I want to thank my personal staff, Michael Reed, Tynesha Boomer, and Danny Giddings, and the subcommittee staff, Martha Foley, Diem-Linh Jones, Perry Yates, Joe Layman, Justin Masucci, Randy Staples, Echo Domingues and Will Ostertag for their hard work on the bill.

117th Congress