Statement on Committee passage of FY18 Agriculture Appropriations Bill
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, released the following statement on the FY18 Agriculture Appropriations bill. The House Appropriations Committee passed the bill today.
“While I would like to have seen more funding for certain programs in this bill, I’m glad that the funding levels generally did not fall in line with the Trump Administration’s request for drastic cuts to programs that are vital to farmers, rural business owners, and consumers.”
“In particular, I’m relieved to see funding preserved for the National Organic Program and Organic Transition Program, technical assistance programs for farmers, and rural housing and infrastructure investments. This bill is also largely free of damaging riders that have delayed the implementation of key regulations in the past, such as the Farmer Fair Practices and Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rules.
“Several of my priorities have been included in the bill. The bill provides $1 million to research new varieties of hops, which could benefit local growers who are hoping to supply the craft brewing industry in Maine. There is also strong language to ensure that the USDA reports on investigations into allegations of fraud in the organic industry, an issue I raised with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue directly when he came before the Subcommittee.”
Pingree recently penned an op-ed in Civil Eats on the urgency of protecting integrity of the organic label.
During today’s Committee markup, Pingree was also successful in getting two provisions passed as part of the manager’s amendment. The first provision provides an over $190 million increase* to the Farm Service Agency program providing guaranteed loans to support farm operations. The second is report language that directs USDA to complete a study on food waste at the farm level, in hopes of identifying new market opportunities for farmers to recover food.
Pingree also spoke in opposition to a $8 million mandatory cut to the Rural Energy for America Program—which has been enormously successful in helping farms and rural businesses cut energy costs and adopt sustainable energy sources—and expressed the need to restore funding for FSA direct farm operating loans.
*CORRECTION: a previous version of this release listed the increase as $200 million