What will the federal funding for 2022 agriculture look like?
We are getting a closer look at how the federal government will fund agriculture next year.
The House Appropriations Committee is marking up the budget, going over $800 billion dollars with a fine-tooth comb.
The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee is asking for $26.5 billion dollars for next year, an increase of $2.8 billion.
Chairman Sanford Bishop says that the bill addresses three key priorities: “First, it provides nearly $400 million dollars in investments to ensure equitable participation in USDA programs. Second, the bill provides nearly $350 million dollars to address the impacts of climate change, and third, it fully funds federal pay costs and it re-bills the leadership offices at USDA that were decimated over the past several years.”
Ranking member Jeff Fortenberry praised the bipartisan work that went into the process, but says that Republicans disagree with a reversal in packing plant line speed waivers, which will slow production.
According to Fortenberry, “If we’re smart and we’re creative, we can actually assure that plants that are well run with good intentioned people can actually be highly productive and keep persons who work there safe. The line speed issue was one that actually Secretary Vilsack worked out during the Obama administration, so again the change here is an area we disagree with.”
Bishop followed up, saying that workers should be the priority.
“It’s a real, a real careful balance. It’s a sort of a tug of war,” Bishop states. “How do we adequately protect the health, safety, and welfare but then allow the industries that produce the food to have best practices that allow them to do it more efficiently. But, I think that if we err, we should err on the side of protecting those workers.”
Another concern for Fortenberry is the amount of WHIP disaster funding. He told the committee there is not enough to even cover 2020 losses.
“This is so critical to stabilization of the food supply, when there’s a natural disaster, where there is no fault of any producer out there. This is one of the things that the government has done to ensure that fundamental aspect of public safety is protected-- our food supply. So, if we can work on that and work through replenishing WHIP, I think it would be very helpful in this bill,” he adds.
While the ag section of the bill passed in the subcommittee with bipartisan support, it is now lumped in with other spending, which faces more opposition from Republicans who say the full package is too expensive.