National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition — The House Appropriations Committee advanced their agriculture appropriations funding bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 today, which was marked up and approved by the Agriculture Subcommittee last week. The agriculture appropriations bill plays a major role in shaping our food and farm systems as it funds many of the major programs and functions of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). For FY 2022, the bill proposes a total of $26.55 billion, a more than 10 percent increase from FY 2021.
“The House bill includes historic wins for sustainable agriculture priorities,” said Eric Deeble, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) Policy Director. “NSAC applauds House appropriators for advancing comprehensive investments in rural communities, sustainable agriculture research, and local and regional food systems,” Deeble added.
Notably, the legislation includes a substantial increase in investments for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program at $50 million, a $10 million increase from FY21. This funding level will allow SARE’s farmer driven research to keep pace with the growing challenges farmers face in remaining profitable and viable in the context of climate change. Moreover, NSAC is pleased to see an overall commitment of $347.4 million to address climate change across the USDA.
NSAC supports the considerable allocation to build resiliency by investing in local and regional food systems. This includes $21.4 million in discretionary funding for the Local Agriculture Market Program, building on the $100 million in emergency funding allocated in the December COVID aid package, along with the $50 million in yearly mandatory farm bill funding.
NSAC also commends the $2 million allocated to the Agricultural Marketing Service for a new Small Meat Packing Plants Apprenticeship program. Given the increasing demand for local or regional sustainable meat and poultry, and the challenges faced by small- and medium-sized meatpacking operations during the pandemic, this funding aims to bolster workforce development for smaller meatpackers and foster partnerships with existing institutions and organizations with expertise in meatpacking operations. NSAC applauds Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee ranking member Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) for introducing this provision through the Strengthening Local Processing Act and providing funding for it through the FY22 bill.
While it is not clear what the timeline will be, NSAC is pleased to see the House agriculture appropriations bill moving forward and we recognize that major hurdles remain to securing final FY 2022 funding levels. We encourage the Senate, as they move forward with their own appropriations process, to replicate these robust investments.
“We hope Congress will expeditiously move forward with the appropriations process and avoid passing a Continuing Resolution, so that these significant increases in the House bill can be enacted as soon as possible to provide much-needed support to farmers, researchers, and organizations. Making these crucial investments now is key to recovering from the pandemic’s impacts and building a resilient rural economy, bolstering sustainable food systems, and addressing the climate crisis,” said Deeble.
For more detailed information about the FY2022 Appropriations visit NSAC’s Agriculture Appropriations Chart.