Chairman Bishop Statement at Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for the Department of Agriculture Hearing

2022-04-28 10:10

Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Chair of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for the Department of Agriculture hearing:

Today we are examining the Department of Agriculture’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget request. 

I am pleased to introduce our witness, Secretary Vilsack – thank you for being here. It was good having you in Albany, Georgia last week to announce USDA’s investment in Radium Springs, and to highlight the impact the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will have in rural communities across the country. 

Now, this budget comes to Congress at an important moment in time. For the past two years, USDA has played a major part in the government’s response to COVID-19. Through six coronavirus relief bills, including the American Rescue Plan Act, Congress entrusted USDA with tens of billions of dollars and additional flexibilities.

With those funds and authorities, USDA is helping to put food on the table both at home and at school by expanding access to food programs. USDA is strengthening the food supply chain by investing in infrastructure and support for food processors, and local food systems, to build resiliency in the food supply. And USDA is doubling down on its efforts in rural America, including investments to support rural hospitals and local communities, rental assistance for low-income and elderly borrowers, and further investments in broadband expansion. 

But even as some aspects of the pandemic response wind down, there are issues, such as addressing climate change, securing the food supply chain, and ensuring more of our rural communities have access to the same high-speed internet as our suburban and urban communities, that will keep USDA at the forefront of American policy priorities for the foreseeable future.

With all that as the backdrop, USDA’s FY 2023 request for this Subcommittee is $23.6 billion, an increase of $2.2 billion or 10% over FY 2022. Overall, I am pleased this budget continues to build on agency-wide priorities funded in FY 2022, including investments to ensure equitable participation in USDA programs, address the impacts of climate change, and support staff and leadership offices at USDA. 

Notable investments include:
-    A $200 million increase for the ReConnect Program. 
-    A $119 million increase for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. 
-    $50 million to expand conservation assistance to beginning, historically underserved, or veteran farmers. 
-    Fully funding the SNAP, Child Nutrition, and WIC programs to meet expected participation in FY 2023. 

So today, I’ll be interested to hear about how USDA can improve the quality of life in our communities and how its work affects the lives of every American on a daily basis. 

Secretary Vilsack, thank you again for being here. I appreciate all the work you have done in a little over a year, and I look forward to working with you as the FY 2023 process moves forward.  

117th Congress