A Senate subcommittee on Monday advanced a fiscal 2022 funding bill for the Agriculture Department and Food and Drug Administration that would provide $7 billion in disaster assistance.

The disaster funding includes $6.28 billion to extend USDA’s Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus program for losses in 2020 and 2021, along with an additional $750 million set aside for losses livestock producers suffered due to drought and wildfires this year. 

The total cost of the legislation, which the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee approved Monday evening, is $25.9 billion, which would be a $2.46 billion increase from fiscal 2021. The full Appropriations Committee will consider the measure on Wednesday. 

“These remain very challenging times … both in the marketplace and as our farmers, ranchers and forest land owners deal with historic drought, raging wildfires and other catastrophic weather events,” said subcommittee Chairwoman Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.

The text of the bill was not released, but the subcommittee's senior Republican, John Hoeven of North Dakota, told reporters that USDA would be given some leeway in how to allocate the livestock disaster assistance. 

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The House's version of the FY22 USDA funding bill didn't include funding for WHIP Plus. However, the House Agriculture Committee approved a separate bill that would authorize $8.5 billion in disaster aid through WHIP Plus for 2020 and 2021. 
The Senate funding bill also includes a provision establishing a pilot program for a cattle contract library at the Agricultural Marketing Service and an additional $2 million for the agency to enforce the Packers and Stockyards Act. The contract library is intended to improve price transparency in cattle markets. 

USDA's ReConnect loan and grant program for rural broadband expansion would get $700 million in FY22 under the bill. 

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