U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) this week applauded the Senate Appropriations Committee’s approval of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill to support farmers and ranchers, encourage rural economic development, and enhance food safety in FY2018. The legislation, which Sen. Moran supported as a member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, allocates funding for priorities within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This bill continues our investments in rural America while also reducing our federal spending as compared to currently enacted levels.
“The success of our ag community impacts every sector of our state’s economy,” said Sen. Moran. “Our agriculture appropriations bill makes certain that farmers and ranchers in Kansas and across the country have the resources they need to succeed, while investing in the future through agriculture research, conservation and animal health initiatives. This legislation also protects crop insurance and strengthens risk management tools critical to our nation’s agriculture producers, especially during times of low commodity prices.”
Sen. Moran continued, “I have long been a supporter of initiatives to help transitioning military veterans explore opportunities in production agriculture, and I’m pleased that this year’s bill builds upon the provisions included in years past to encourage our veterans to pursue farming, ranching and other careers in agriculture.”
The bill prioritizes a number of key issues for Kansans, including:
Continues support for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), USDA’s premier competitive grant program for basic and applied agriculture research. The bill maintains increased levels of support for wheat and sorghum research, including resources to fight against the sugarcane aphid which is harming sorghum production. It promotes research completed at USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) labs and universities in Kansas to keep producers on the cutting edge of technology and competitive in a global market.
Supports USDA conservation efforts, including working lands programs and increased funding for Conservation Technical Assistance. Technical assistance through the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) gives farmers and ranchers the knowledge and tools to be better stewards of the land and water and underpins USDA’s voluntary, non-regulatory approach to conservation approach.
Watershed and flood prevention
Strengthens the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations program. This program protects our rural communities from flooding by providing needed support for watershed projects. Watersheds also protect our natural resources and provide conservation benefits by reducing erosion and increasing sediment retention. Estimates show that in Kansas alone, watershed projects in place today provide $115 million in economic and flood damage reduction benefits.
Includes funding for USDA to support initiatives that engage in outreach and training for veterans transitioning from military service to careers in agriculture. Nearly 40 percent of the nation’s farms are owned and operated by farmers over the age of 65 creating a significant demand new farmers, while at the same time, over 800,000 service members are expected to transition out of the military in the coming years.
Rural water systems
Provides robust support for the Grassroots Source Water Protection Program and Circuit Rider Program, which are designed to provide technical assistance to rural water systems and prevent pollution of surface and ground water used as the primary source of drinking water by rural residents.
Food safety initiatives
Supports implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act and USDA food inspection services, which intends to improve preventive control measures for food production, decrease foodborne illness outbreaks, and better ensure the safety of imported food. Preventing food contamination keeps consumers safe and heathy and helps agriculture stakeholders by instilling confidence in our food systems.
International Food Assistance
Increases support for Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole Food for Education, programs that utilize U.S. grown commodities to feed hungry and malnourished people around the world. Approximately 10 percent of hard red winter wheat exports in 2016 were through food aid programs, directly benefitting Kansas agriculture produces. These programs also serve our national interests by promoting political, economic and social stability in regions of the world important to America’s strategic interests, in addition to elevating our country’s moral standing and leadership.