Appropriations bill would significantly cut USDA budget, restrict use of climate-related funding

The House Ag Appropriations Subcommittee has advanced a spending bill that proposes slashing USDA’s budget by nearly $9 billion.

The bill would eliminating some climate-related funding, Those cuts would prevent Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack’s use of the Commodity Credit Corporation, which funds the $3 billion for the Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities programIt also expands work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Congresswoman Ashley Hinson, a Republican from Iowa and member of the subcommittee, tells Brownfield USDA needs additional oversight. “We didn’t authorize those programs. We didn’t fund those programs directly. So for the Secretary to have a large, large amount of money to use as a slush fund, we think that’s wrong.”

In a statement to Brownfield, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack called the cuts pathetic, punitive and petty. He says the bill raises many questions and undermines the work USDA has done in advancing agriculture since the COVID-19 pandemic. Vilsack also says USDA will continue to implement programs that have been promised to producers.

House Ag Committee Ranking Member David Scott says producers, rural economies and the farm bill process will be hurt. He says the plan is not strategic and takes money away from programs that already benefit producers.

While there are significant cuts, the proposal includes increases for the Food and Drug Administration, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Food Safety Inspection Service. It maintains funds for the Farm Service Agency and Risk Management Agency. The bill would limit the Administration’s ability to enforce the Packers and Stockyards Act.

The bill would provide a total of $17.2 billion to USDA in FY24, which would be the lowest spending level since 2006, and $11.7 billion below what President Joe Biden requested.

The totals don’t include programs funded through the farm bill and other legislation like crop insurance, commodity programs and conservation assistance.

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