Bishop statement at full committee markup of FY 2019 Agriculture Appropriations Bill
Thank you for yielding Mr. Chairman.
I want to start off by again saying thank you to you and our subcommittee colleagues for diligently working together, across party lines, to get us where we are today in this appropriations process. We tirelessly worked under an unusually short time frame and a budget request from the President that was so draconian it again met with bi-partisan opposition. Therefore, I am not only pleased, but I am proud that we, as a subcommittee, were able to reject so much if it outright to keep this country fed with the safest and most abundant food supply in the world.
This 2019 agriculture bill was greatly helped by the 2 year budget agreement we are operating under and has received a slight increase (less than 1 percent) over last year’s enacted level. That said, it is $6.2 billion over the President’s request. This resulted in a bill that, while it is not what I would have written, is certainly better than the House bill we considered last year and much better than what the Administration would have given the American people.
Our communities need these programs more than ever and they need them to be funded robustly. With that Mr. Chairman, I want to emphasize that I am looking forward to us working together during the appropriations process to make necessary improvements to this bill before it is signed into law.
We will do some of that today, as we debate amendments on, among other issues:
- Horse Slaughter
With respect to this 2019 agriculture bill, I was pleased to see mandatory funding for SNAP and child nutrition that is consistent with current estimates. I am especially pleased that it does this without including onerous legislative proposals made by the Administration, such as “harvest boxes.”
I was also pleased to see that the bill provides $1.5 billion for Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole is funded at $208 million, both of which were zeroed out by the President’s request. Food for Peace is funded below the 2018 level and McGovern-Dole is equal to it, but at least both programs are far above zero.
On the positive side, the bill provides $915 million for Research and Education activities, a $28 million increase over FY 18, which includes funding for the 1890 historically Black land-grant institutions, as well as the Hispanic-serving and Native American tribal-controlled land-grant institutions. I am also pleased we were able to find funding for the Centers of Excellence at 1890 institutions. I believe these Centers will be great resources to the agriculture community, and they are now on their way to being fully realized.
While the Administration’s request for Rural Development was appalling, this subcommittee’s mark for rural America is an impressive improvement over the President’s plan for rural funding. The President’s budget proposal called for zeroing out several programs, including housing, business, and all but one waste water program, which could have proved disastrous for our small and impoverished rural communities. In contrast, this bill maintains the momentum we started building in FY 2018 to make investments in our rural communities. It also makes investment in broad band and telemedicine.
Turning away from the bill for a second; Mr. Chairman, I must point out that we have no full list of subcommittee allocations.
Marking up just one bill at a time without a full list of allocations leaves us effectively working in the dark. If history proves correct, we are again in danger of having a broken appropriations process. I would be remiss if I didn’t say that it will be unconscionable for any of us to help pass spending bills that shift burdens onto working families and the most vulnerable among us. Agreeing to subcommittee allocations bill by bill puts us at a great danger of doing just that.
Before I yield back Mr. Chairman, I would like to recognize the staff for all of their hard work and time put into this bill. From the Minority Committee Staff, I would like to thank Martha Foley and Angela Ohm, as well as Michael Reed and Joseph Layman from my personal office. From the Majority Committee Staff, I would like to thank Tom O’Brien, Pam Miller, Justin Masucci, Andrew Cooper, and Sarah Doese; and Brian Rell from Chairman Aderholt’s office.
Thank you Mr. Chairman and I yield back.