Hoeven: Congress Approves FY19 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, Provides Strong Support for Farmers, Ranchers and Rural America

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, today outlined important priorities he worked to include in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which was approved by Congress today.

“With the challenges facing rural America, we worked hard to provide strong support for our farmers and ranchers through this agriculture funding legislation,” said Hoeven. “As chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Committee, I worked to ensure that this legislation supports our producers, bolsters agriculture research and empowers rural communities.”

As chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Committee, Hoeven’s priorities included the following: 

Support for Ag Producers 

  • Maintains support for crop insurance and other farm bill programs. 
  • Continues funding for Hoeven’s Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) pilot program to allow for an alternate calculation method for crop payments when National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) data is insufficient.
  • Provides $4 million for the Hoeven Water Bank initiative, which provides compensation for farmers and landowners for flooded land through 10-year, voluntary conservation agreements.
  • Fully funds the expected demand for farm direct and guaranteed and emergency loans.
  • Prohibits the closure of Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices and provides funding to hire additional FSA county employees and loan officers
  • Includes the Acre-for-Acre Wetlands Mitigation language encouraging the USDA Secretary to use mitigation of a natural wetland and equivalent wetlands functions with the conversion rate of 1-to-1 acreage.
  • Provides no less than $250,000 in Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) funding to reduce blackbird depredation in the Northern Great Plains.
  • Includes School Pulse Crop language emphasizing the nutritional benefits of pulse crops for children and encouraging USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service to assist schools in sourcing and serving pulses.
  • Increases funding for the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), to help provide producers with marketing opportunities for U.S. agricultural products. 

Agriculture Research – $2.775 billion to support agricultural research conducted by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), including:

  • Provides $415 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).
  • Maintains formula research funding for land-grant universities
  • Provides a $1 million increase in ARS funding for each of the following: Pulse Crop Health Initiative; Chronic Wasting Disease; Sugarbeets; Alfalfa Research; Small Grain Genomics. Maintains funding for UAS Precision Agriculture at $3 million and $8.7 million for the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative.

Rural Development

  • Rural Broadband – Provides $550 million for the rural broadband loan and grant pilot program targeted to areas that currently lack access to broadband service. 
  • Rural Water and Wastewater – To help address the $3 billion backlog in infrastructure needs in rural America, the bill provides an additional $75 million for rural water and waste program loans and grants.
  • Combating Opioid Abuse – The legislation helps to combat the opioid abuse epidemic including:
    • $47 million for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to combat the opioid epidemic using regulatory science, enforcement and innovation. 
    • $16 million for Rural Development Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants to help rural communities combat the opioid abuse crisis. 
    • $3 million through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture for extension and outreach programs in rural communities. 
  • Rural Electric Set-Aside – Includes language to allow Project Tundra and Allam Cycle to be eligible for the Rural Utilities Service Electric Loan Program.