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Government Relations & Washington Update

March 2024

Congress Releases FY 2024 Consolidated Appropriations Package

Congress continues its work to complete appropriations for funding the federal government through the end of fiscal year 2024. Congress passed another short-term continuing resolution on February 29th extending the deadline for four appropriations bills (including agriculture) to March 8th. The remaining bills were extended to March 22nd. In a sign of progress, on March 3rd the House and Senate Appropriations Committees released six of the final appropriations bills for fiscal year 2024. The package includes bills covering:

  • Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
  • Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
  • Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
  • Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies
  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations
  • Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

If approved, the final funding levels for agricultural research include decreases for both the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) salaries and expenses would be increased by $44 million, while buildings and facilities would see a sharp drop from last year. Most accounts in the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) budget would be funded at the same level as last year, including the capacity funds. The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) would be decreased by $10 million.

Below is a summary of selected USDA accounts comparing the “final” FY24 Consolidated funding levels with House and Senate versions and FY 2023 levels.

ACCOUNT     FY23 FINAL    FY24 House   FY24 Senate   FY 24 Consolidated

OCE                  $28.2 million   $29.2 million   $30.2 million   $30.5 million

ERS                   $92.6 million   $90.6 million   $92.2 million   $90.6 million

NASS                $211 million    $187.5 million $200.5 million $187.5 million

ARS Salaries     $1.744 billion $1.745 billion $1.793 billion $1.788 billion

ARS Buildings  $132.3 million $16.7 million   $88.8 million   $57.1 million

Hatch               $265 million   $265 million    $265 million    $265 million

AFRI                 $455 million   $460 million    $455 million    $445.2 million

Smith Lever      $325 million    $325 million    $325 million    $325 million

Below are links to additional information regarding the bill:

Bill Text

Joint Explanatory Statement

Secretary of Agriculture Testifies before House and Senate Agriculture Committees

In February, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack appeared before both the House and Senate Agriculture Committee. The hearings covered a wide range of issues impacting food and agriculture policy and highlighted potential challenges in completing the next farm bill. The recent ERS release of the February 2024 Farm Income Forecast was a topic raised by Secretary Vilsack and multiple committee members. The report forecasts that net farm income will be $116.1 billion in calendar year 2024, a decrease of $39.8 billion (25.5 percent) relative to 2023 in nominal dollars. After adjusting for inflation, net farm income is forecast to decrease $43.1 billion (27.1 percent) in 2024 relative to 2023. The forecast decline is raising concerns and Republicans are pressing for increased investments in the farm safety net by reprogramming Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funds dedicated to conservation or slowing the growth of nutrition programs. Democrats have indicated strong opposition to redirecting any funds from the IRA or changing nutrition programs. Despite their differences, leaders from both parties continue to express their desire to move a bipartisan farm bill this year. A full recording of the hearings can be found here: House    Senate