Chair DeLauro Statement at Subcommittee Markup of Fiscal Year 2022 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Funding Bill
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee's markup of its fiscal year 2022 bill:
Thank you, Chairman Bishop and Ranking Jeff Fortenberry, for your bipartisan work on this bill and for your ongoing commitment to American agriculture and to our rural communities. I might add that in your opening statement, Mr. Chairman, you talked about your friendship with the Ranking Member. It’s the hard work and dedication, but I believe that the core of the success of this bill is the friendship that the two of you have forged together. And indeed, it is a good bill. And I also want to say a thank you to Ranking Member Granger, who I know also shares that commitment.
Having chaired the Agriculture Subcommittee in the past, I know firsthand the important programs and the Agencies this bill funds across the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). We have provided an increase of more than $2.8 billion for this year’s bill, reflecting a total commitment of $26.55 billion in discretionary funding and resources for American families, our farmers and ranchers, and our rural communities within this bill.
The COVID-19 pandemic created the greatest public health and economic crisis in a generation – and agriculture and the food system were not spared. Early on, we quite literally watched consolidated food supply chains break right before our eyes. We saw on TV crops being plowed under. We saw that milk was being dumped. And as we build back, we must prioritize resiliency, not just for our farmers, but for American families and children who rely upon a safe, abundant, and accessible supply of food.
I am proud of the bill’s strong measures to combat hunger and nutrition insecurity. We meet the President’s Request and provide $6 billion in funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which will extend the Program’s increases in fruit and vegetable benefits through September 2022. This is an investment in a healthier generation, and will help us fight chronic, diet-related issues like obesity and diabetes.
The bill provides funding to safeguard the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as well as Child Nutrition programs, like school meals, which were recently shown to be healthiest source of food consumed in the country. We also meet our moral obligation to fight hunger internationally by providing $1.74 billion for Food for Peace grants and $245 million for the McGovern-Dole.
We also provide more than $1 billion for USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to keep the Agency’s frontline inspectors in plants, ensuring the safety of meat and poultry. And, while speaking of meat and poultry – I want to highlight the USDA’s newly announced Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant Program: more than $55 million to expand opportunities for small and midsized processors. Consolidation by corporate meatpackers has been rampant and unchecked, and it is a danger to both farmers and consumers. More action is needed to address this anti-competitive behavior in agriculture, but USDA has taken an important first step.
This bill also provides $347.4 million, across USDA, to confront the climate crisis and position American agriculture and our farmers as a key part of the climate solution. This funding will help advance regenerative agriculture practices that capture carbon by building soil organic matter. And, for the first time, we have included dedicated funding for alternative proteins research within the Agricultural Research Service. The United States can continue to be a global leader on alternative protein science, and these technologies can play an important role in combatting climate change and adding resiliency to our food system.
Finally, this bill increases the budget of the Food and Drug Administration by $256 million and prioritizes FDA’s important work to maintain food safety. Part of this increase targets the Agency’s work to prevent and quickly respond to foodborne illness outbreaks, and it also supports a new FDA initiative to reduce heavy metals that have been identified in baby foods.
Again, let me say thank you to the Chairman and Ranking Member, and I urge my colleagues to support this bill. And let me just say a thank you to the staff that makes all of this possible.