FY2019 USDA Funding Approved by House Committee

On Wednesday, May 16, the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2019 Agriculture Appropriations. The bill, which funds the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), other USDA Agencies and the Food and Drug Administration, totals $23.276 billion in discretionary funding, a $14 million increase above the FY 2018 enacted level. This includes increases in several programs important to CALS and Extension:

Account FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 House Difference
McIntire-Stennis 33.961 36.000 +2.039
Hatch Act 243.701 259.000 +15.299
Smith-Lever 300.000 315.000 +15.000
AFRI 400.000 415.000 +15.000

It is not yet clear how the full House will consider appropriations bills at this point. The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee may meet as early as next week to approve their version of the FY 2019 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. Each spending bill requires approval by both chambers.

The House committee’s report included the following relevant highlights:

  • Blueberry and Cranberry Research.— The Committee is supportive of the multi-university cranberry and blueberry research programs operated in partnership with the ARS, and provides an additional $1,000,000 in funding for the purchase of equipment and the hiring of additional scientists to meet research needs in disease prevention, pesticide reduction, and water conservation.
  • Leveraging Plant Genome Information. — The Committee recognizes the potential impact that variable weather, environments, and production systems can have on the yield and quantity of maize and the need for greater prediction of plant performance under variable growing conditions. The Committee encourages USDA to support research that leverages plant genomic information with phenotypic and environmental data through an inter-disciplinary framework, resulting in an understanding of plant processes that affect productivity and the ability to predict plant performance.
  • NIFA Program Authorities and Consolidation Report. — The Committee directs NIFA to provide a report by September 30, 2019 that details the authority under which each funded NIFA program is administered and whether that program (its goals or priorities), or the challenges each program is intended to address, can be achieved under the authorities of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, Evans-Allen Program, 1890’s Extension, and Hatch and Smith-Lever Acts or other appropriate programs.
  • FDA Partnerships Under FSMA. — As FDA continues implementation of FSMA, the Committee encourages FDA to work in partnership with existing government food safety programs through MOUs to verify compliance with FSMA to rules once they are finalized as a way to eliminate duplication of activities under the law. In addition, the Committee continues to provide $5,000,000 for the Food Safety Outreach Program under NIFA and expects that NIFA will serve as the sole agency providing food safety training, education, outreach, and technical assistance at the farm level.