GOP appropriators go after USDA funding

The proposed cuts would cut 2024 USDA funding by more than 30%, including cuts to climate-related funding.
BY LUKE REYNOLDS
Agriculture-Secretary-makes-statement-on-omnibus-appropriations-bill

The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee proposed a bill cutting USDA funding by more than $9 billion below 2023 levels.  

The FY2024 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Bill  provides funding of $17.2 billion which cuts funding levels back to what it was in 2006. 

Opponents of the bill say that it would hurt America’s farmers if passed. 

“I am extremely disappointed that this bill will shortchange America’s rural and underserved communities, restricting their ability to access water and waste systems, nutritious food and affordable electricity,” says Representative Sanford Bishop Jr., D-Georia, the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member “The federal government should be a steadfast partner for smaller communities whose budgets cannot meet the large, upfront costs of critical quality-of-life projects. Unfortunately, these cuts will hurt the most vulnerable and blunt the forward progress being made to grow our economy for everyone.” 

According to the Appropriations Committee Democrats, the legislation: 

  • reneges on investments in rural America, such as loans to financially distressed farmers and funds for rural electric co-ops to help ratepayers. 
  • reneges on critical nutrition assistance. 
  • underfunds critical direct loans for the purchase of homes in rural areas and water and waste grants, which help the poorest communities get safer water services. 
  • takes food out of the mouths of veterans, children, seniors and people with disabilities. 
  • reverses the FDA decision to allow mifepristone to be dispensed in certified pharmacies, instead of only by prescribers in hospitals, clinics, and medical offices. 

Nathan Bowen, advocacy and public affairs vice president at the Irrigation Association, says that the cuts are wide-ranging and of great concern. 

“While no one expects this legislation to become law due to strong opposition from the administration and Democrats in the Senate, cuts of this magnitude would have significant impacts on USDA’s ability to deliver programs to rural America and would inject even more political brinkmanship into the process,” he says. “Reducing funding to USDA by nearly $9 billion could seriously detrimentally impact the irrigation industry.” 

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