WASHINGTON, April 5, 2017 - State agencies that are beginning to implement new produce safety and other standards required by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) will need a lot more money in fiscal 2018, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture said in its annual appropriations letter to Congress.
NASDA is also seeking more funding for USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service and EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs. More broadly, however, the group argued for continued support for states struggling to implement federal mandates.
"Ahead of the 2018 farm bill, support for discretionary programs under your committee’s jurisdiction is more important than ever,” NASDA CEO Barb Glenn said in the letter, addressed to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran, R-Miss., House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., and respective ranking members Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., and Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.
“Amidst the farm economy downturn, investment in these programs demonstrates support for America’s farmers and ranchers and commitment to agriculture programs,” the letter said. “Many economic analyses predict record levels of farm foreclosures and ripple effects throughout rural communities. We respectfully request that you preserve and enhance the various rural programs under your jurisdiction for FY18.”
Forty-two states that have cooperative agreements with the Food and Drug Administration received $21.8 million in September to help them put together multiyear plans “to implement a produce safety system, develop and provide education, outreach and technical assistance, and develop programs to address the specific and unique needs of the growers in their farming communities,” FDA said.
But it’s not nearly enough, NASDA said, asking for $40 million for produce safety, $40 million to implement the “preventive controls” for the “human food” rule and $20 million for preventive controls for an “animal food” rule.
“It is crucial that Congress provide sufficient resources so as to avoid unfunded mandates on the states and to ensure farmers have the tools and education necessary to comply with these new federal requirements,” Glenn said in the letter.
President Trump’s “skinny budget” released last month had no details on FSMA spending. It did, however, target the Environmental Protection Agency for a 31 percent cut and the elimination of 3,200 jobs – about 20 percent of the workforce. The proposal envisions a 21 percent cut at USDA. Congressional reaction to the administration proposal, however, was almost uniformly negative.
NASDA pushed for $128 million for EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, which handles registration of new active ingredients and re-registration of already approved chemicals. The program received $120 million for fiscal 2016, the last year Congress was able to approve a budget. Continuing resolutions since then have allocated funds based on the numbers in that fiscal 2016 spending package.
The $128 million figure would “ensure (EPA) has appropriate resources necessary to support FIFRA-related activities, training, resources to facilitate state meetings, and field training resources,” Glenn said in the letter.
Trump’s budget would slash categorical grants to states from nearly $1.1 billion to about $600 million. But NASDA is pushing for $15 million for states to implement pesticide programs, which would be about $2.3 million more than the amount approved in FY 16, and $19 million for pesticide enforcement, an increase of about $1 million. NASDA also is seeking about $5 million for states to implement pollinator protection plans.
A larger-ticket EPA item is the nonpoint source grant program under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act. States received $164.9 million under that program in fiscal 2016, and EPA requested the same in its fiscal 2017 proposal. NASDA asked for the same amount but said “the national need is much greater,” calling the funds “critical for state non-point source water quality efforts.”
The organization supported funding of “at least” $176.6 million for the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), because “NASS data is vital to keeping agricultural markets stable, efficient, and fair by making available objective data to commodity market buyers and sellers.” The Trump “America First” budget blueprint said that it would cut funding for “USDA’s statistical capabilities, while maintaining core departmental analytical functions, such as the funding necessary to complete the Census of Agriculture.” The NASDA request matches the Obama administration’s FY 2017 budget proposal, which would have been an increase of about $9 million above the FY 2016 level.
NASDA also is seeking to protect mandatory funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) at $1.75 billion; ensure Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) availability at 10 million acres; protect mandatory Agriculture Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) at $250 million; and protect mandatory Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) funding at $110 million plus eligible funds from EQIP, CSP and ACEP.
In addition, NASDA urged the appropriators “to resist attempts to include language that would prohibit funding for USDA horse meat inspection for human consumption. A 2011 GAO study concluded that removing funding for USDA horse meat inspectors has resulted in widespread starvation, abandonment, unnecessary suffering of horses and unwanted horses being shipped farther to processing facilities in Canada or Mexico.”