FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Laura Zaks
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Release: Senate Advances Agriculture Appropriations Bill
FY 2024 “Minibus” Maintains Support for Vital Sustainable Agriculture Programs
Washington, DC, November 1, 2023 – Today, the Senate passed its Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 “minibus” appropriations package, which includes discretionary funding for agriculture and food access programs such as Conservation Technical Assistance and the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program, among others. “Minibus” refers to a small package of different appropriations bills, which in this case consists of Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; Transportation, Housing and Urban Development; and Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration.
“Under difficult constraints, the Senate crafted and has now passed a solid, bipartisan FY 2024 agriculture spending bill which maintains investment in conservation technical assistance and sustainable agriculture research while rejecting harmful riders and rescissions. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) thanks Senators Heinrich (D-NM), Hoeven (R-ND) Murray (D-WA), and Collins (R-ME), for their leadership in delivering a responsible agriculture spending bill, and looks forward to ensuring that the Senate’s proposal prevails outright in any final FY20204 appropriations legislation,” said Mike Lavender, NSAC Policy Director.
Funding levels for several NSAC priority programs are as follows:
- Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, $50 million
- Organic Transition Research Program, $7.5 million
- WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program, $20 million
- Conservation Technical Assistance, $800 million
- Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, $10 million
- Office of Urban Agriculture & Innovative Production, $8.5 million
Earlier this year, both the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees failed to provide funding for the Office of Urban Agriculture & Innovative Production (OUAIP) despite interest in and support for the grants and cooperative agreements offered through OUAIP being at an all-time high. Therefore, NSAC led a group of 140 stakeholders in response to the potential cuts, delivering a letter to Congressional appropriators in July. Senator Stabenow’s (D-MI) steadfast leadership for OUAIP resulted in a successful floor amendment that restored funding for the office. Looking beyond appropriations, the upcoming farm bill reauthorization provides an opportunity to build on the growing support for OUAIP to ensure that it is no longer subject to the annual appropriations process. Senators John Fetterman (D-PA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Representatives Alma Adams (D-NC-12) and Shontel Brown (D-OH-11) introduced the Supporting Urban and Innovative Farming Act (S. 2591, H.R. 5915) which would, among other improvements, provide mandatory funding that responds to the rapidly growing demand.
“NSAC applauds the adoption of an amendment that not only restores funding for the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production but demonstrates the growing support for the Office within Congress. OUAIP’s activities extend beyond increasing proximity of fresh produce in urban centers; it is expanding the reach of USDA’s farm services to better serve the emerging population of urban, small-scale and indoor growers,” commented Hannah Quigley, NSAC Policy Specialist.
As with much of the Senate bill, it is important to understand the larger context. The confines of the debt-limit deal made funding increases across the bill challenging. The Senate bill falls short of providing an appropriation for the Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach Grant Program (FOTO), which includes both the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (Section 2501). While FOTO receives $25 million in mandatory funding that is unaffected by annual appropriations, the program has also received additional discretionary appropriations in recent years.
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: https://sustainableagriculture.net