Chairman Bishop Statement at Subcommittee Markup of FY 2021 Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA Funding Bill

2020-07-06 18:00

Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA), Chair of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's markup of its fiscal year 2021 bill:

Before us is the Chairman’s mark for the fiscal year 2021 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The bill – and accompanying report – are products of a lot of hard work that has been done in the face of uncertainty and unusual working conditions.

Before we all started working remotely, this subcommittee held six hearings, including hearings with the Secretary of Agriculture and the FDA Commissioner.

 This year, the subcommittee received more than 9,000 member requests, a large increase over last year. We were able to fund the vast majority of member requests on both sides of the aisle.

Our fiscal year 2021 allocation is $23.98 billion – two percent above the fiscal year 2020 enacted level and more than $4.1 billion above the budget request.

I have maintained a steadfast commitment to our rural communities. To that extent, the bill includes $1.055 billion for rural broadband expansion, including $990 million for the ReConnect program, an increase of $435 million or 78%.  In total, the bill provides more than $3.2 billion in budget authority for Rural Development programs to fund critical infrastructure, such as water and wastewater systems, and rural housing needs.         

The bill also provides $2.8 billion for farm and conservation program. This includes $5 million to resolve ownership and succession of farmland issues, also known as the “heirs property” issue, which predominately affects black farmers and has led to the loss of millions of acres of privately held farmland.         

The bill provides $3.3 billion for agricultural research, including an increase of $29.5 million for programs that support the 1890s Land-Grant Institutions.         

The bill rejects the proposed elimination of the Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole programs and provides increases for both totaling $65 million.

The bill fully funds the SNAP, Child Nutrition, and WIC programs to meet expected participation in FY 2021. It also blocks two unconscionable SNAP rules – the Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents final rule and the Standard Utility Allowance proposed rule – designed to restrict program eligibility.

The bill continues to fund smaller nutrition programs at good levels. The Summer EBT program is funded at $50 million, a $15 million increase from 2020. School Breakfast Expansion Grants are funded at $15 million.

For the Food and Drug Administration, increased funding is dedicated to new initiatives that would advance influenza vaccine technologies, enhance the safety of medical products and the nation’s food supply.

I ask for your support of this bill.

Before I ask the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, Mr. Fortenberry, for his opening remarks, I want to thank my personal staff and the subcommittee staff for their hard work on the bill.    

116th Congress