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RELEASE: FY 2020 House Agriculture Appropriations Bill Proposes to Block ERS NIFA Relocation

May 22, 2019


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Reana Kovalcik
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
202-547-5754, rkovalcik@sustainableagriculture.net

FY 2020 House Agriculture Appropriations Bill Proposes to Block ERS NIFA Relocation
NSAC applauds agriculture appropriators for proposal to block ERS NIFA relocation and realignment, investments in sustainable agriculture priorities

Washington, DC, May 22, 2019 – This morning the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee released their fiscal year (FY) 2020 Agriculture Appropriations Bill in advance of tomorrow’s Subcommittee markup. Overall the bill provides $24.3 billion for food and agricultural programs, $1 billion above the FY 2019 enacted level. The House bill provides important investments in several of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s (NSAC) appropriations priorities, while also rejecting the Administration’s proposal to relocate USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) outside of the National Capital Region and move ERS out of the Department’s research mission area.

“Agriculture appropriators’ strong opposition to the proposed relocation of ERS and NIFA, as well as to the proposed realignment of ERS under the Office of the Chief Economist, came through loud and clear in the House bill,” said Alyssa Charney, Senior Policy Specialist at NSAC. “We thank House appropriators for speaking out against the proposal over the past several months, and for ensuring that language clearly opposing the proposed relocation and realignment was included in the Subcommittee’s bill. As USDA continues to plow forward with a proposal that threatens the integrity and capacity of these two agencies, we applaud the House for including language that, if enacted, would help stop this harmful proposal. We urge Senate appropriators to follow the House’s lead in blocking this reckless move that threatens the integrity and capacity of the two agencies.”

While the House Subcommittee has not yet publicly released all of the specific funding levels for the House bill, most of which are included in report language that will be released in advance of the full Appropriations Committee taking up the bill in early June, there are already several notable funding wins for sustainable agriculture priorities included in the bill text released this morning.

“We are very pleased that the House bill includes $10 million in discretionary funding for the Farming Opportunities and Training and Outreach (FOTO) program, which was newly established in the 2018 Farm Bill to bring together two programs that provide essential training, outreach, and technical assistance for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers,” said Charney. “This funding would restore key beginning farmer and socially disadvantaged farmer assistance programs to their previous funding levels, providing much needed support for the next generation of farmers as well as historically underserved farmers and communities of color.”

“Another plus in the bill is level funding, at $15 million, for the highly successful Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program. This funding, added to the sum provided for VAPG in the 2018 Farm Bill’s Local Agriculture Marketing Program, will help farmers develop and secure high value, sustainable markets for their products, creating good rural jobs in the process.”

“Additionally, we are extremely glad that, for the third year in a row, the House bill does not include any proposed cuts to mandatory funding for farm bill conservation programs. Programs like the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) were reauthorized in the 2018 Farm Bill, and any cuts to mandatory funding for these programs should absolutely be off the table as the FY 2020 appropriations process moves forward. Thankfully, the House bill also provides an increase in discretionary funding for Conservation Operations, which includes Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) to make it possible to implement and deliver conservation assistance across the country.”  

NSAC will continue to analyze further details of the bill as the report is made available; the Coalition is looking to secure additional funding for sustainable agriculture research, food safety training, local and regional food systems programs, and more.

“As the FY 2020 appropriations process moves forward, NSAC urges Congress and the White House to secure a deal to lift the budget caps for the next two years to avoid devastating across-the-board budget cuts. While the House’s agriculture appropriations bill is an important step for critical investments in sustainable agriculture, we know that there is no viable path forward for these wins to become law without an increase to overall discretionary spending caps.”

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About the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities. Learn more and get involved at: http://sustainableagriculture.net


Categories: Press Releases


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