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House Passes Gov’t Funding Bill

(Washington, DC) — The House is approving a one-point-seven-trillion-dollar bill to fund the government through much of next year. Lawmakers passed the measure Friday just before night deadline to avert a looming shutdown. The measure includes 858-billion in military spending and nearly 45-billion in emergency aid to Ukraine. It also makes changes to the Electoral Count Act, making it more difficult to block of the certification of a presidential election. The bill now heads to President Biden’s desk.

Agriculture groups provided their reaction the to bill on Friday afternoon ahead of the Christmas holiday as well. You can view that reaction below:

Final Funding Bill Allocates Millions of Dollars to Key Ag Initiatives

Congress passed legislation today that will fund the government through September 2023 and allocate millions of dollars to support key agricultural initiatives.

The bill funds several of the National Corn Growers Association’s (NCGA) top priorities, including research to address aflatoxin, a mycotoxin that has been costly to U.S. corn growers, disaster mitigation efforts and climate change initiatives.

“We are very pleased to see that Congress and the president have prioritized programs that are important to corn growers,” said NCGA Vice President of public policy Brooke S. Appleton. “We are appreciative of our allies who made sure these important initiatives were included in this legislation.”

One of the biggest wins for corn growers was the allocation of $1 million to fund aflatoxin research through NCGA’s Aflatoxin Mitigation Center of Excellence, in conjunction with Texas A&M. Aflatoxin can cost corn growers between $52.1 million to $1.68 billion in annual losses, according to a 2016 study.

The development was praised by state corn grower leaders.

“For years, the Aflatoxin Mitigation Center of Excellence has provided funding to projects focused the mitigation and amelioration of aflatoxin in corn,” said Texas Corn Producers Executive Director David Gibson. “Having Congress recognize the severity of this issue by providing additional funding through the Agricultural Research Service via appropriations is a tremendous step forward in our efforts.”

The funding bill also continues ad hoc programs that aid farmers reeling from adverse weather conditions.

It includes $3.74 billion to extend the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Relief Program to assist producers who suffered losses due to natural disasters in 2022, including drought.

Also included in the package was an agreement between House and Senate leaders on the Growing Climate Solutions Act and the SUSTAINS Act. The Growing Climate Solutions Act directs USDA to establish a program to register entities that provide technical assistance and verification for farmers, ranchers and foresters who participate in voluntary carbon markets with the goal of providing information and confidence to producers.

The SUSTAINS Act would allow corporations and other private entities to contribute funding for conservation projects and authorizes USDA to match the donations.

The new law also includes two important pesticide provisions. It reauthorizes the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act of 2022, which includes an increase in registration and maintenance fees to support a more predictable regulatory process and provides important resources for farmworker safety and health care provider training, in addition to other services that advance the safe and effective use of pesticides. Additionally, it requires EPA to comply with numerous registration process improvements to access additional funding levels and requires manufacturers to phase-in bilingual labels on pesticides products over the next 8 years.

The legislation extends the deadline for EPA to complete registration review decisions.

EPA is facing a significant backlog of pesticide registrations due to a variety of factors over the past several years, which has potential implications for continued access to numerous crop protection tools. The agency will be allowed to continue its registration review work through October 1, 2026, as a result of this extension.

Chairman David Scott Applauds Passage of Omnibus Spending Bill

WASHINGTON – Below is a statement from Chairman David Scott on Congressional passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023:

“I am pleased that both the House and the Senate have been able to negotiate and pass the Fiscal Year 2023 appropriations bill ahead of the 118th Congress. It was a pleasure to have worked alongside my House and Senate Agriculture Committee colleagues in order to ensure additional legislative priorities such as the Growing Climate Solutions Act, the SUSTAINS Act, and the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act of 2022 (PRIA V) were included within these provisions to fund the government,” said Chairman David Scott.

“Additionally, I am pleased that the agreement includes the $100 million in critical funding to help alleviate some of the losses experienced by cotton merchandisers that I advocated for and worked hard to include. I would also like to thank the Senate Agriculture Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee for their important work to establish a permanent Summer EBT program for eligible children,” Chairman David Scott continued.

“Each of these provisions included in the omnibus are so vitally important to ensuring the wellbeing of the American people. Today’s passage of the omnibus spending bill will ensure that our American agricultural security will remain intact,” Chairman David Scott added.

NACD Applauds Strong Conservation Investments in Federal Spending Bill

WASHINGTON, DC – NACD applauds Congress for passing a Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 federal spending agreement that supports voluntary, locally-led conservation efforts across the country by providing strong funding for critical conservation programs and initiatives. The spending package includes:

No cuts to mandatory spending for USDA farm bill conservation programs, such as EQIP, CSP, RCPP, and CRP;

$941 million for NRCS Conservation Operations, including more than $800 million for Conservation Technical Assistance – a $40 million increase compared to FY 2022 funding. This funding supports the work of conservation districts and other local partners to help producers assess resource needs, develop conservation plans, and implement effective conservation practices;

More than $337 million for the U.S. Forest Service’s State and Private Forestry Program – a more than $20 million increase compared to FY 2022 funding;

$12.5 million for the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Stewardship Program – a $500,000 increase compared to FY 2022 funding;

$182 million for EPA’s Nonpoint Source Management Program – a $4 million increase compared to FY 2022 funding;

$925 million for NRCS’ Emergency Watershed Protection Program, $75 million for Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Operations Programs, and $2 million for the Watershed Rehabilitation Program.

The agreement also includes a revised version of the bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act. The bill will help farmers, ranchers, and private forestland owners access voluntary environmental credit markets by authorizing USDA to establish a registry list for farm technical advisers and verification services. The agreement also includes the SUSTAINS Act, which will facilitate USDA accepting private funds to support the agency’s efforts to address climate change, sequester carbon, improve wildlife habitat, and enhance water quality.

Notably, the bill also includes $3.7 billion for USDA’s Emergency Relief Program to assist producers who suffered losses due to natural disasters this year.

“NACD applauds Congress for passing a strong federal spending bill that supports our producers and critical, locally-led conservation efforts across the country,” said NACD President Michael Crowder. “It is now more important than ever that we provide producers and local conservation partners with the resources and tools they need to feed the world and be great stewards of our country’s working lands.”

The spending bill will now be sent to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law. This legislation is a clear commitment to producers and will support and empower local partners to help them enhance their operations and protect the nation’s natural resources.

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