Hoeven: Senate Passes FY19 Agriculture Appropriations Bill

As Ag Approps Chairman, Senator Worked to Provide Strong Support for Producers, Ag Research & Rural Development

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, today issued the following statement after the Senate passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. Hoeven introduced the legislation on the Senate floor earlier this week and outlined important provisions in the funding bill.  

“We have worked hard to invest taxpayer dollars responsibly, funding programs that provide direct benefits to our farmers and rural communities and supporting programs that provide direct health and safety benefits to all Americans,” said Hoeven. “Agriculture supports more than 16 million jobs nationwide and forms the backbone of our rural communities. Our agriculture producers are the best in the world if given a level playing field. This legislation helps to provide them with the tools they need to succeed, because the success of our nation’s farmers and ranchers benefits every American, every day.”

As chairman, Hoeven secured the following provisions in the legislation:  

Support for Ag Producers – Maintains support for crop insurance and other farm bill programs. The bill also:

  • Continues funding 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.
  • Maintains funding 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 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 – $2.726 billion to support agricultural research conducted by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), including:

  • Provides $405 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).
  • Maintains formula research funding for land-grant universities
  • Provides $1 million in ARS funding for each of the following: Pulse Crop Health Initiative; Chronic Wasting Disease; Sugarbeets; Alfalfa Research; Small Grain Genomics. Maintains funding at $3 million for UAS Precision Agriculture and $8.7 million for the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative.

Rural Development

  • Rural Broadband – Provides $425 million for the rural broadband loan and grant pilot program targeted to areas that currently lack access to broadband service. 
  • Rural Water and Waste Programs – To help address the $3 billion backlog in infrastructure needs in rural American, the bill provides $1.25 billion for rural water and waste program loans, $800 million for water and waste grants, and $19 million for the Circuit Rider program. 
  • Combating Opioid Abuse – Provides $59 million for the FDA to expand efforts to identify and interdict illicit drugs, such as fentanyl, at International Mailing Facilities. Provides $20 million for Rural Development Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants to help rural communities combat the opioid abuse crisis.  
  • Rural Electric Set-Aside – Includes language to allow Project Tundra and Allam Cycle to be eligible for the Rural Utilities Service Electric Loan Program.