House advances appropriations bills with NGFA priorities
By Bobby Frederick, Vice President of Legislative Affairs and Public Policy
The House on July 28 approved seven appropriations bills including funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Overall, USDA and FDA would receive a total of $26.6 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2022, a 12 percent increase from the previous fiscal year. The legislation includes $1.57 billion for the Farm Service Agency, $1.06 billion for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and $883.4 million for rural broadband loans. In addition, the legislation includes an estimated $9.6 billion in mandatory funding for the Federal Crop Insurance Program.
The legislation maintains the current limitation of $55 million from industry user fees collected for grain inspection and weighing services. It also retains language NGFA fought for in FY 2021 to block additional grain regulatory program user fees from being administratively implemented.
During consideration of the legislation, the committee adopted an NGFA-supported amendment sponsored by Reps. Jim Baird, R-Ind.; Angie Craig, D-Minn.; David Rouzer, R-N.C.; Dusty Johnson. R-S.D.; and Kim Schrier, D-Wash., to provide $5 million to FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine to improve the approval process for animal food ingredients. This funding is intended to expedite a review process that, according to Informa Economics, takes an average of three-to-five years to complete, costing U.S. animal food companies millions of dollars in revenue.
The House also approved $8.66 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, a nearly 15 percent increase from what the agency received for FY 2021. Also, due to NGFA-supported improvements made in the Water Resources Development Act of 2020, the Inland Waterways Trust Fund would receive $257 million in construction and major rehabilitation funding and the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund would receive an estimated $2.05 billion for port dredging -- an increase of more than 20 percent from FY 2021.
Notably, the House approved $22.5 million in construction funding for the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP), which would expand the navigation capacity along the Upper Mississippi River – Illinois Waterway (UMR-IWW) through the construction of seven new 1,200-foot locks and dams. If achieved, the new and modernized NESP locks would allow a 15-barge tow to pass through in just one lockage, increasing efficiency and saving time and boosting U.S. competitiveness.
Congress authorized NESP in 2007, but the program has not received any construction funding. That could change this year after NGFA and Waterways Council, Inc. successfully worked with Reps. Bustos, Hinson, Sam Graves, R-Mo., the ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., to submit a request for this construction funding.
Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee has yet to mark up any of its appropriations bills. An identical version of this legislation still must pass the Senate, House, and be signed by the president before this funding can be realized.