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US House Committee on Appropriations approves $27 billion for agriculture

The $27.2 billion agriculture bill just passed by the US House Committee on Appropriations now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. Courtesy Photo

The US House Committee on Appropriations has approved $27.2 billion for FY 2023 for agriculture, rural development and the Food & Drug Administration, including $1.7 billion for agriculture research. 

The bill funds federal efforts to tackle hunger and nutrition insecurity, grow opportunities and uplift rural communities, confront the climate crisis and advance world-leading agriculture research and development, according to US Rep. Ed Case (D-HI) and a member of the committee.

The funding is a $2.1 billion increase from FY 2022. The agriculture bill now moves to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

“I focused in my Appropriations Committee on supporting our local farmers, farmers markets and food promotion programs, which combined will help our Hawai‘i deal with the soaring cost of food, much of which is imported to our islands,” Rep. Case said.  

Specific programs and provisions Rep. Case said he requested and secured that are in the agriculture bill: 

  • $35 million for the Agricultural Quarantine Inspections program, which focuses on preventing introduction of invasive species to Hawai‘i.
  • $5 million for coffee research to address the threats of Coffee Leaf Rust and Coffee Berry Borer.
  • $1.7 million for research on the macadamia felted coccid.
  • $10 million for the Micro-Grants for Food Security program, which provides direct farming assistance to Hawaiʻi’s subsistence and small commercial farmers. 
  • $7.4 million for Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, which helps address food insecurity with fresh produce and supports local farms. 
  • $5 million for Education Grants for Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-serving institutions, the first increase for this vital program in years. It addresses the educational needs of food and agricultural sciences-related disciplines and prepares low-income students for careers related to the food, agricultural and natural resources. 

The measure also: 

  • Recognizes the prevention of agricultural infestations of pests and diseases is much more cost effective than subsequent control or eradication, including pre-departure and interline inspections. 
  • Directs the Agricultural Research Service to coordinate federal research to address the impact of the avocado lace bug, spittle bug and the Queensland longhorn beetle. 
  • Directs the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production to create funding opportunities through the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program and the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to develop or improve farmers’ markets and their ability to access local community markets. 
  • Directs the US Department of Agriculture to improve the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, which provides low-income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged for eligible foods at farmers’ markets and roadside stands, so the program can serve  more eligible low-income seniors. 
  • Recognizes the importance of outreach and assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and  Ranchers programs. The Committee requests the Secretary to identify any barriers to access the program and make recommendations for improvements.
  • Encourages the Agricultural Research Service to continue research on tropical and  subtropical crops. The Committee notes this research is critical as the presence of and destruction by invasive pests such as fruit flies, coffee berry borer, felted macadamia nut coccid, and plant viruses and funguses increase and threaten crop security in the Pacific and insular areas 

“Coming on the heels of the recently approved passage in the US House earlier this month of the landmark Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, this funding measure will also boost efforts to help Hawai‘i deal with invasive species which, unfortunately, [the state] has been recognized as the invasive species capital of the world,” Rep. Case said.  

The Appropriations Committee is responsible for allocating $1.6  trillion in funding to federal government agencies, departments and organizations on an annual basis through 12 separate bills. 

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2022/06/24/us-house-committee-on-appropriations-approves-27-billion-for-agriculture/

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