July 27, 2020

July D.C. Update

Washington Roundup – July 2020

By: Lowell Randel

House Advances FY 2021 Agriculture Appropriations

On July 9th, the House Appropriations Subcommittee approved its version of the FY 2021 Agriculture Appropriations Bill.  Democratic leadership has packaged the Agriculture Appropriations bill with three other bills to form H.R. 7608, a “minibus” package that includes four FY 2021 spending bills: State-Foreign Operations, Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA, Interior-Environment, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.  The House completed action and approved the package of bills on July 24th.

According to the Committee, the bill provides a total of $23.98 billion in funding for FY 2021.  This includes $3.3 billion for agriculture research programs, which represents an increase of $92 million above FY 2020.  ARS Salaries and Expenses would receive a $37 million increase over FY 2020.  This amount includes level funding for operations and maintenance for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) and $8 million to support NBAF research.

For NIFA, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) would receive a $435 million, up $10 million from last year.  The bill also includes a $500,000 increase to Section 1433, Continuing Animal Health and Disease Research Programs.  This represents the first increase for Sec. 1433 in several years and helps reinforce the importance of the program, which was reauthorized in the 2018 Farm Bill.  The Agricultural Genome to Phenome Initiative, also recently authorized by the Farm Bill, would receive $1 million.  This is the same amount provided in FY 2020.  NIFA recently offered a Request for Applications (RFA) related to FY 2020 funds that will support collaborative research project to expand the knowledge of phenomes and genomes of plants and animals important to the agriculture.

Below is a summary of key research accounts:

 

ACCOUNT                               FY 2020 FINAL            FY2021 House

ARS Salaries and Expenses     $1.414 billion              $1.451 billion

ARS Buildings and Facilities    $192.7 million             $50 million

Hatch                                      $259 million                $259 million

AFRI                                         $425 million                $435 million

Sec. 1433                                $ 4 million                   $4.5 million    

Smith Lever                             $315 million                $315 million

Genome to Phenome             $1 million                    $1 million

 

The Senate Appropriations Committee had originally planned to begin marking up its version of the Agriculture Appropriations Bill in late June but has encountered delays.  It now appears unlikely that action will take place in the Senate before August recess, and potentially not until after the 2020 election.

 

Congress Considers Animal Health Funding in COVID-19 Relief Bill

Congressional leaders are working towards the next installment of relief provisions to support the economy in the wake of the pandemic.  The House passed the H.R. 6800, The Heroes Act, in May.  The House bill would provide $300 million for Section 10409A of the Animal Health Protection Act, which includes the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program (NADPRP) and the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank.  The Senate is still developing its COVID-19 package, but Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) has introduced S.4156 - RELIEF for Producers Act of 2020 that also includes $300 million for the same three programs.  ASAS has joined members of the Animal Agriculture Coalition in urging support for this funding in the next COVID-19 relief legislation.  These programs, established in the 2018 Farm Bill, can play an important role in the prevention and mitigation of animal health and disease issues, including zoonotic diseases such as coronaviruses.