House appropriators are proposing to steer new Agriculture Department funding into tackling climate change and expanding rural broadband service under a fiscal 2022 spending bill released Thursday.
The FY22 bill would provide $347.4 million in climate-related funding, including research to track and mitigate climate change and measures to increase the use of carbon-saving farming practices and clean energy technologies.
The bill also includes $907 million for rural broadband, a $115 million increase over the fiscal 2021 level. Most of the funding, $800 million, goes into USDA’s ReConnect grant and loan program.
The bill, which also funds the Food and Drug Administration and Commodity Futures Trading Commission, will be considered by the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on Friday. The 2022 budget year starts Oct. 1.
“This bill also invests in farmers — from research and conservation efforts to making sure that the fruits of their labor reach markets across the country and around the globe — which is vital to our country’s economy,” said Subcommittee Chairman Sanford Bishop, D-Ga.
“It also strengthens our commitment to rural development, funding critical infrastructure projects as well as housing assistance, so that America’s heartland continues to grow to meet the needs of our nation.”
Overall, the bill would provide $26.55 billion in what is considered “discretionary” spending, those accounts that are funded through annual appropriations bills. Other programs are funded through laws such as the farm bill.
The bill would provide $3.3 billion, $226.5 million above the FY 2021 enacted level, for agriculture research programs, including the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
The bill would provide $1.64 billion in spending for ARS, including $70 million for climate change — $50 million for climate science and $20 million for clean energy; President Joe Biden had requested $1.9 billion for ARS.
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Other climate-related allocations in the bill include $2 million for the Risk Management Agency “to research, review and ensure actuarial soundness of new products addressing climate change” and $4.5 million in funding for Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack’s office for climate change activities and coordination across the department.
International food aid programs funded by the bill would get about $2 billion, including $1.74 billion for Food for Peace grants and $245 million for the McGovern-Dole school feeding program.
This bill would provide $60 million to resolve problems with heirs’ property, Black-owned land for which ownership has been clouded because of property transfers that took place without wills and estate plans.
FDA's food safety programs would be increased by $65 million "to better avoid or more quickly respond to food outbreaks, improve the animal food inspection system, and addresses heavy metals in baby food," according to a bill summary.
The CFTC would get a $59 million increase in FY22 to $363 million under the bill.
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