March 25, 2018

D.C. Update for March

Washington Roundup – March 2018

By: Lowell Randel

Congress Reaches Deal on FY 2018 Appropriations

On March 21st, Congressional leaders announced that they had reached a deal on appropriations for the remainder of fiscal year 2018.  The budget deal passed earlier in the year opened up discretionary funding caps and allowed for additional resources for domestic discretionary programs, including programs supported by the USDA.  Agricultural research was successful in receiving some of the additional funds made available by the budget deal.  ARS received $20 million higher than the allocation provided in the Senate version of the bill (which was considerably higher than the House version).  In addition, $140 million was added to support ARS buildings and facilities, which is $50 million than the amount provided in the House version (no funding was included in the Senate version).

For NIFA, the largest increase was for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which receives $400 million (up $25 million from both the House and Senate versions).  Most other NIFA accounts were level funded.  The table below shows a comparison of the Omnibus bill with the House, Senate and final FY 2017 numbers:


FY 2017 – FINAL

FY 2018 - House

FY 2018 – Senate

FY 2018 – Omnibus

Agricultural Research Service – Salaries and Expenses

$1.143 billion

$1.132 billion

$1.182 billion

$1.202 billion

ARS Buildings and Facilities

$99.6 million

$90 million


$140.6 million

NIFA Research and Education

$849.5 million

$830.4 million

$854.8 million

$887.1 million


$244 million

$244 million

$244 million

$244 million


$375 million

$375 million


$375 million


$400 million

Expanded Section 1433

$4 million

$4 million

$4 million

$4 million

NIFA Extension Activities

$477.3 million

$475.8 million

$481.3 million

$483.6 million



$300 million

$300 million

$300 million

$300 million

NIFA Integrated Activities

$36 million

$35 million

$37 million

$37 million

ASAS Supports FY 2019 Appropriations for Agricultural Research

While Congress has been working to finalize appropriations for fiscal year 2018, efforts on FY 2019 appropriations are also underway.  The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee has begun scheduling hearings, but the initial hearing with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was postponed on March 21st when the federal government closed due to weather.

In preparation for FY 2019 action, ASAS has joined forces with like-minded groups to support funding of agricultural research priorities.  ASAS was one of 98 national and state organizations to send a letter to the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees in support of appropriations for the expanded Sec. 1433 program that, if funded at the requested level of $10 million, would trigger competitive grants on critical animal science priorities including food security, one health and stewardship.  ASAS also joined a SoAR led coalition letter requesting $525 million in FY 2019 for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and a letter led by the Friends of the Agricultural Research Service requesting $1.35 billion to support ARS research programs.  ASAS will continue working with coalitions and partner organizations to support federal investments in agricultural research priorities as the FY 2019 process moves forward.

House Farm Bill Action Delayed

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conway has indicated that the committee will not begin consideration of the 2018 Farm Bill until after the Easter recess.  It appears that controversy on nutrition policy is evolving along party lines, similar to what happened during the last Farm Bill reauthorization.  House Speaker Paul Ryan has indicated that he intends to advance welfare and entitlement reforms, which could have a significant impact on nutrition program spending.  It appears that the current House draft would change work requirements related to receiving nutrition program benefits.

Conaway has shared an outline of the draft bill with committee members in preparation for action in hopes of building bipartisan support.  However, Ranking Member Collin Peterson has recently released a statement that the Democratic members of the committee cannot support the nutrition provisions contained in the current draft.  Democrats on the committee have stated that they will halt all negotiations due to concerns over nutrition policy.  This opposition threatens to disrupt the timing in which the committee formally meets to consider the legislation.  Chairman Conaway had originally hoped to have the bill approved by the Committee in March.