June 01, 2018

D.C. Update

Washington Roundup - May 2018

By: Lowell Randel

House Fails to Pass Farm Bill
The House of Representatives voted down its version of the Farm Bill on Friday, May 18th.  The vote was expected to be close, as Democrats had expressed unified opposition to the bill over the addition of work requirements to the SNAP nutrition program.  Full Democratic opposition meant that almost all Republicans would have to support the bill to achieve passage.  The House Freedom Caucus saw this as an opportunity to gain leverage with leadership regarding immigration policy.  The caucus demanded a vote on an immigration bill before they would support the Farm Bill.  This lead to most Freedom Caucus members opposing the Farm Bill and contributing to its defeat.  Thirty Republicans ended up voted against the bill.  Most were Freedom Caucus members, while some were moderates concerned about nutrition programs.
Since the defeat, House leadership has reiterated its commitment to passing a Farm Bill.  It appears that immigration will be brought to a vote in June in hopes that it will clear the way for Freedom Caucus members to support the Farm Bill.  
House Farm Bill Text
House Farm Bill Report Text

ASAS Joins Partners in Supporting Animal Genomics
Support is building for the equal inclusion of animal genomics in the Farm Bill.  Report language was added to the House version of the Farm Bill expressing support for animal genomics research.  This language should be helpful when conferencing the House and Senate versions of the bill.  Efforts are also underway in the Senate to press for the equal inclusion of animal genomics in the Senate's Farm Bill.  ASAS joined an effort led by the National Association for the Advancement of Animal Science to compile of a list of supporters of animal genomics.  A list of 48 national and state organizations was provided to the Senate Agriculture Committee demonstrating broad support for the equal inclusion of animal genomics in the Farm Bill.  Chairman Roberts has signaled that he could announce the committee's schedule for Farm Bill consideration in the near future.

House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bills Released
The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee has released its version of the FY 2019 Agriculture Appropriations bill.  The bill includes increases for both NIFA and ARS programs.  It is interesting to note that the committee has provided the first increases to Hatch and Smith Lever capacity funds in several years.  Below is a summary of some key accounts:

ACCOUNT FY 2018 President's Budget FY 2019 - HOUSE
ARS Salaries and Expenses $1.202 billion $1.018 billion $1.258 billion
ARS Buildings and Facilities $140.6 million $0 $136 million
Hatch $243 million $243 million $259 million
AFRI $400 million $375 million $415 million
Sec. 1433 $4 million $0 $4 million
Smith Lever $300 million $300 million $315 million
Integrated Activities $37 million $13 million $36 million

House Bill Text
House Report Text
The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee has also approved its version of FY 2019 appropriations.  Total funding for agriculture research is $2.726 billion, which is $449 million more than the President's request.   Both ARS and NIFA would be funded above FY 2018 levels.  ARS would receive $1.301 billion, which is $282 million more than the budget request.   The Committee is also very clear that the bill does not allow for the termination of research programs or the closure of laboratories.  
Total funding for the NIFA is $1.425 billion, which is $17 million more than the fiscal year 2018 level, and $167 million more than the President's budget request.  Included in this funding is $405 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. Formula research funding for land-grant universities is maintained at FY2018 enacted levels.  More details will be available once the report is released.
Senate Bill Highlights