On Friday, July 24, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 7608, a fiscal year 2021 funding bill that provides for U.S. agriculture and USDA programs, in addition to rural development, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Department of Interior (DOI) programs.
Separate from the recent standalone trade mitigation and coronavirus assistance provided to farmers, this annual funding package supports the vital work of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), National Organic Program, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). In total, the House bill provides $153 billion in funding for FY2021 – an increase of $331 million from last year.
Other highlights of the bill include:
- Allows USDA to waive certain requirements for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), ensuring key research projects can continue;
- Instructs USDA’s research arm to complete a strategic plan for the Agriculture Advanced Research and Development Authority (AGARDA), an innovative research grant program that aims to support high-risk, high-reward projects that can produce real-world solutions for our farmers;
- Elevates the need for an emergency program focused on reimbursing producers, processors, and other agricultural employers for personal protective equipment and other safety measures for their employees
The Senate is currently working on their version of the annual agriculture funding bill, which will then be reconciled with the House bill before final passage and presentation to President Trump for his signature.