The House on June 5 passed a package of appropriations bills that fund several federal departments, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for the 2020 fiscal year, which spans Oct. 1, 2019 to Sept. 30, 2020.
The package, passed by a 227-194 vote, exceeded the president’s budget request by more than $5 billion, allocating a total of $24.31 billion. The legislation provides $1.802 billion for farm programs, $32.1 million greater than fiscal 2019, and includes an increase of $30 million for 2018 farm law implementation.
Democrats also included language blocking USDA’s proposal to relocate the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture to the Kansas City Region by September.
The House report accompanying the bill, which serves as a list of views and recommendations that do not carry the force of law, includes troubling language from House Democrats discouraging USDA from “requiring its grain inspectors to cross a picket line” if West Coast grain terminal operators and the Longshore and Warehouse Union fail to reach an agreement.
NGFA pushed back strongly against this highly inappropriate language, and House Republicans included the following language in the report as well: “Such language is irresponsible when the Grain Inspections Act clearly obligates inspectors to conduct inspections unless the Secretary (of Agriculture) were to waive the requirement for safety reasons. Using USDA inspectors in a labor dispute and interfering with the export sales of U.S. product during an already turbulent international trade environment is completely unnecessary.”
NGFA thanked Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., for submitting a statement for the congressional record, in which he stated in part, “Our producers, grain handlers, and the agricultural value chain as a whole has worked tirelessly to grow market share around the world and Congress should refrain from instructing USDA not to perform important services that are statutorily obligated under the Grain Standards Act.”