FY2019 USDA Funding Approved by Senate Committee

On Friday, May 25, the U.S. Senate’s Appropriations Committee approved its FY 19 Agriculture Appropriations bill l and posted its report. The bill totals $23.235 billion in discretionary funding, a $225 million increase above the FY 2018 enacted level. McIntire-Stennis and AFRI received increases in funding

Like the House agriculture bill, the Senate bill includes a $1 million increase for cranberry research. The bill also includes $1.25 million for Genomes to Fields (level with FY18) through ARS and also new language in support of the NIFA Genomes to Phenomes effort.

The Senate committee’s report includes the following highlights relevant to CALS programs:

Genomes to Fields — The Committee recommendation includes no less than the fiscal year 2018 level to support the Germplasm Enhancement of Maize [GEM] project to complement the existing USDA maize germplasm programs and support the emerging large- scale public sector effort to investigate the interaction of maize genome variation and environments, known as the Genomes to Fields project.

Genomes to Phenomes — The Committee is supportive of the multi-university crop research initiative known as Genomes to Phenomes, and encourages NIFA to support the development of tools and datasets that can be used across multiple crop species to improve the output and efficiency of agriculture.

Cranberry Research — The Committee recognizes the need for advancements in water conservation, pest control, disease reduction, and fruit quality improvements in cranberry production. The Committee recommendation includes an increase of $1,000,000 for the improvement of cranberry yields, pest management, disease management, and water resource management by developing fields devoted to cranberry research and collection and storage of samples for analysis in appropriate existing laboratory facilities.

Nutrition Education – The Committee is concerned that extension service resources do not reach minority, socially disadvantaged, and tribal communities in proportion to their participation in the agricultural sector. All institutions that receive extension activity funding should seek to ensure that an  equitable percentage of their overall extension work reaches minority, socially disadvantaged, and tribal communities. The Committee directs NIF A to evaluate distribution of extension resources to these three populations and report to the Committee no later than 90 days after enactment of this Act.