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

2021-06-30 14:06

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Committee's markup of the fiscal year 2022 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies bill:

Thank you, Chairman Bishop and Ranking Member Fortenberry, for your bipartisan work on this bill and for your ongoing commitment to American agriculture, working families, and to our rural communities.

I served as Chair of the Agriculture Subcommittee for several years, so I know how important this funding will be in helping to support our farmers, our ranchers, and our rural communities. This bill provides $26.55 billion in annual funding for programs and agencies across the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is an increase of more than $2.8 billion – more than 10 percent. And I applaud that. This increase is critical as we work to tackle hunger, lift up rural communities, rebuild public health and safety infrastructure, confront the climate crisis, and foster greater equity.

Following the devastation of the pandemic, it is vital that we prioritize resiliency in our agriculture and food system and ensure our children, our families, our communities have access to an abundant and safe supply of food. That is why I am pleased that this bill meets the President’s request by providing $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 funding is indispensable in helping to combat hunger and nutrition insecurity while enabling us to fight chronic, diet related issues like diabetes and obesity.

Many families rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the food stamp program, and Child Nutrition programs to help keep children healthy and well-fed. I am proud that this honors our commitment to our nation’s most vulnerable and helps put food on the table for people struggling to make ends meats.

In the land of plenty, no one should go hungry. The United States is a land of plenty, no one should go to bed hungry, no child should be hungry in our country.

In addition to the provisions for nutrition assistance, this bill helps ensure the safety of meat and poultry through $1 billion for USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. In that vein, I’d like to highlight the USDA’s newly announced Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant Program, which expands opportunities for small and midsized meat and poultry processors. While we need to do more to address consolidation efforts and anti-competitive behavior in the agriculture industry, this is a much-needed step in the right direction. 

We cannot ignore the serious peril that climate change poses to our food supply, the livelihoods of our farmers, and the life of our rural communities. That is why this bill starts to address the climate crisis with $347.4 million across USDA to address the impacts of climate change. This funding will help promote regenerative agriculture practices, which include utilizing more perennial plants, diverse crops, crop rotation practices and opportunities to reuse waste through mulching and composting. 

As recent food contamination incidents have underscored, the need to ensure our nation’s food supply is safe is paramount. With $256 million for the Food and Drug Administration, this bill prioritizes FDA’s work to maintain food safety, specifically by targeting the Agency’s work to prevent and respond to foodborne illness outbreaks. It supports a new FDA initiative to reduce heavy metals that have been identified in baby foods.

Finally, there is a painful legacy of discrimination that has pervaded the implementation of USDA initiatives. This bill includes important investments to ensure fair participation in USDA programs and strengthen a diverse pipeline for the future of agriculture. And it improves outreach and program access to historically underserved communities.

Our farmers, ranchers and rural communities feed the world and drive our nation’s economy. And, in a country as rich as ours, no American should ever go hungry.

Through the resources in this bill, we can tackle hunger and ensure a safe food supply while lifting up farming and rural communities. I thank again Chairman Bishop and Ranking Member Fortenberry and the Subcommittee, full Committee, and personal office staffs for all of your work on this bill, and I urge my colleagues to support the bill.

117th Congress