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Pingree Votes for FY2020 Funding Bills, Including Support for Local and Organic Agriculture, Food Waste Prevention

Washington, December 17, 2019

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) today voted for the passage of the FY2020 appropriations bills, including agricultural funding which she pushed for with her seat on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture. The FY2020 agreement included funding for programs Pingree helped to create in the 2018 Farm Bill.

“Farmers feed America, and they deserve support from Congress during these difficult economic times. With this bill’s passage, we will help make our food system better for farmers, consumers, and our environment,” said Pingree. “This bill will invest in rural communities across Maine and the country, helping producers fight against climate change, meet consumer demand for organic food, sell products locally in their communities, and access the research and data they need to thrive. As an organic farmer with many small growers selling into local and organic markets in my district, I’ve seen firsthand how important investments like these can be to farmers’ success.”

Funding for agriculture was included in the domestic priorities and international assistance bill, one of two appropriations bills passed by the House today. Highlights in H.R. 1158 include:

  • $20.4 million for the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP), a new umbrella program championed by Pingree in the 2018 Farm Bill to streamline existing local and regional food system programs
  • $20 million for the National Organic Program to enforce organic standards and fight against import fraud, an $8 million increase over FY19 funding levels
  • $6 million for the Organic Transition Program, up from $5 million in FY19 
  • $400,000 to implement the Food Loss and Waste Liaison at USDA, a new position championed by Pingree in the 2018 Farm Bill
  • $1 million for USDA composting pilot, new money to implement provisions Pingree authored in the 2018 Farm Bill
  • Ensures the term “climate change” is preserved in USDA’s publications

The bill requires USDA to issue a final origin of livestock rule 180 days after the bill’s passage, based on the Obama-era proposed rule. Pingree has repeatedly pushed USDA for a final origin of livestock rule and questioned USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Undersecretary Greg Ibach on the delay in the origin of livestock rulemaking in July. Secretary Perdue has claimed that there has been “division” in industry on the origin of livestock rulemaking; Pingree has pushed the USDA to provide information about any opposition to the rulemaking because the organic community has expressed widespread support for the final rule and serious concerns of financial losses without the rule in place.

H.R. 1158 does not include funding for NIFA/ERS relocation, which was included in the Senate agriculture appropriations bill draft. The bill also prohibits USDA from reorganizing agencies without Congress’ approval. Pingree has filed the Agriculture Research Integrity Act of 2019, legislation to ensure USDA research agencies stay in the Capital region.

Pingree is an advocate for reforming federal policy to better support the diverse range of American agriculture, including sustainable, organic, and locally focused farming. She has been a member of the House Appropriations Committee since 2013 and sits on the Subcommittee on Agriculture. She retook her seat on the House Agriculture Committee at the start of the 116th Congress.

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