House committee approves ag appropriations bill with NGFA priorities 

By Bobby Frederick, Vice President of Legislative Affairs and Public Policy

The House Appropriations Committee on June 30 approved legislation to provide $26.5 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2022 for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other related agencies. The legislation includes $1.873 billion for farm programs, more than $900 million for rural broadband, and $1.125 billion for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Lawmakers approved the legislation, which represents a 10 percent increase in spending levels from the previous fiscal year, with a unanimous “voice vote.”

As expected, the legislation maintains the current limitation of $55 million from industry user fees collected for grain inspection and weighing services. The legislation retains language NGFA fought for in FY 2021 to block additional grain regulatory program user fees from being administratively implemented. While users pay for the actual grain inspection and weighing services, presidents of both political parties have routinely proposed that users also pay for standardization activities, including the development or maintenance of the actual grain standards. However, NGFA has successfully worked with allies in Congress to secure appropriations for standardization activities and block this additional user fee.

NGFA also worked with members of the committee to include language in the report accompanying the legislation raising concern over the amount of time it takes for animal food ingredients to be reviewed and approved. The report also directs the Center for Veterinary Medicine to review its “Policy and Procedures Manual Guide” in an effort to ensure better access to animal food ingredients. The current manual is outdated by more than 20 years and has prohibited manufacturers of animal food ingredients from being able to make certain marketing claims.

During consideration of the bill, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., successfully offered an amendment to revoke the 16 line-speed waivers issued at poultry plants during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The committee also adopted an amendment by Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., to prohibit China-owned companies from purchasing U.S. agricultural land or participate in USDA programs.

This legislation will be considered by the full House later this summer. Funding for the federal government, including for the USDA and FDA, expires on Oct. 1. The NGFA will continue to work with the House and Senate in an effort to ensure the association’s priorities are retained during the FY 2022 appropriations process.