As lawmakers on both sides of Capitol Hill work on funding agriculture programs for 2020, the American Farm Bureau Federation is urging them to move past the political impasse that has stalled the supplemental disaster relief bill
In a statement to the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations committees, the organization explained that farms and ranches across the country endured several weather disasters in 2018 and pointed out that the trend is continuing in 2019 with historic hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and wildfires.
“Losses total more than $8 billion, and the full impact of recent flooding in the Midwest is still being assessed. Many of the farmers impacted are facing near-complete losses of their crops, livestock and farm infrastructure,” the group wrote. “At the same time, Puerto Rico’s humanitarian crisis continues and reauthorizing the Nutrition Assistance for Puerto Rico program at $600 million is critical.”
Also in the statement, AFBF detailed several agriculture-related programs for which it was recommending either increased funding or funding at authorized levels. The four areas in which Farm Bureau would like to see increased funding are farm programs, international programs, agricultural research and food safety.
“AFBF supports protecting the programs that will ensure U.S. farmers and ranchers can continue to farm and ranch until market conditions improve,” the group wrote.
This includes risk management tools like federal crop insurance and commodity programs, as well as federal conservation programs. The group also called for a funding boost for the Farm Service Agency loan guarantee programs and the FSA Ag Mediation Program. Spending on the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program should also be bumped up, as should funding for USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, National Agricultural Statistics Service and Economic Research Service.
In addition, enhanced funding for the Food and Drug Administration and Food Safety and Inspection Service should be allocated for implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, increased education and training of inspectors, additional science-based inspections, the effective inspection of imported food and feed products and other priorities.
Among the many programs Farm Bureau is encouraging lawmakers to fund at their authorized levels are those related to ag trade, rural development, crop protection tools, animal health, biotechnology promotion, Agriculture in the Classroom and more.
The organization is also asking that Congress fund the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network at its authorized levels.