Ag Appropriations Bill Passes Committee

Ag AppropriationsAg Appropriations Bill Passes CommitteeMore for everyone, but that’s not necessarily good news.

Agriculture,  | Analysis
Jun 7, 2019  | 3 min read | Print Article

Now that bills are seeing daylight, let’s see what the numbers say, shall we? On June 4, the full House Appropriations Committee held a markup on the FY2020 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies bill. Discretionary funding in the legislation totals $24.310 billion – $1 billion over FY2019. In total, the bill allows for $155.3 billion in both discretionary and mandatory funding – $3.2 billion over FY2019.

In the markup, six amendments were offered to the bill. Four amendments were adopted, including the manager’s amendment from Rep. Bishop (D-GA), Chair of the Ag Appropriations Subcommittee, as well as others restoring language relating to genetic modification of embryos, blocking the USDA from issuing a final rule on swine inspection, and blocking the USDA from transferring or altering the jurisdiction over the Forest Service Job Corps. An amendment regarding raising the minimum age for tobacco use to 21 was defeated, as well as an amendment to that amendment excluding the military from the age restriction.

Of the major funding accounts for the USDA, the bill provides the biggest increase to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture with an additional $122,651,000, an 8.3% increase over FY19 appropriations. Funding for the Agricultural Research Service, meanwhile, is reduced by 17% from FY19 levels, primarily resulting from cuts to buildings and facilities maintenance accounts.

Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations for FY2020 ($, in thousands)

Account FY19 Enacted House Bill Compared to FY19 Enacted % Change
Economic Research Service $86,757 $87,757 +$1,000 +1.2%
National Agricultural Statistics Service $174,517 $180,794 +$6,277 +3.6%
Agricultural Research Service $1,684,466 $1,394,516 -$289,950 -17%
National Institute of Food and Agriculture $1,484,122 $1,606,773 +122,651 +8.3%
Farm Service Agency $1,092,059 $1,134,337 +42,278 +3.9%
Risk Management Agency $58,361 $58,361 No change No change
Natural Resources Conservation Service $979,492 $996,628 +17,136 +1.7%
Food and Nutrition Service $103,179,529 $101,633,082 -$1,546,447 -1.5%
Total Appropriations $152,000,000 $155,300,000 +3,300 +2.2%

The President’s FY2020 budget request included $61 billion in savings, $46 billion coming from reforming agricultural programs that subsidize incomes of agricultural businesses. The House’s Ag Appropriations bill does the opposite by raising funds for the Farm Service Agency (FSA) by $42 million ($1.134 billion). The FSA administers income entitlement programs like ARC and PLC.

The Risk Management Agency, which manages the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, is appropriated the same amount as last year, $58 million. The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, which is mandatory funding, manages the highly subsidized crop insurance program, and costs billions of dollars every year. Reducing the federal taxpayer burden in the crop insurance program has been a focus of both President Trump and President Obama before him.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service, which oversees popular conservation programs within the farm bill, is set to get a $17 million ($997 million total) boost in funding compared to last year. The House Appropriations Committee did nothing to curb the spending from the Commodity Credit Corporation fund, which is mandatory not discretionary funding, to farmers affected by the trade war.