Report on Agriculture Appropriations 2020

An update on the 2020 Agriculture Appropriations by Mark Rokala, Policy Director.

This week, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies released its FY20 funding proposal for USDA.  We were told the proposal includes the Organic Farmers Association’s number one priority of bill language implementing the FY15 “Origin of Organic Livestock (OOL)” rule that closes loopholes in the transition of dairy herds. It also increases funding for NOP from $14 million to $15 million and funds the Organic Transition Programs (ORG) at $8 million, which is the same as last year’s funding level.

OFA will review the proposal and confirm the above numbers when it is released to the public, expected later today (Thursday afternoon) and determine the funding levels of our two other priorities, Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) and the Organic Production and Data Incentives (ODI).

Senate Republican leadership is telling their Senators they will try to complete work on the FY20 Appropriations bills prior to the end of the fiscal year September 30, 2019. But, with two weeks left to the fiscal year it will be difficult for the Senate to complete all twelve of the FY20 bills. This week, the House of Representatives started conversations about passing a Continuing Resolution (CR) funding the government until November or December allowing them more time to complete their work on funding the federal government, which would delay the whole appropriations process.

The Senate Appropriations Process is delayed this year because the Republican controlled Senate spent the summer working on getting the Administration to a budget agreement that could pass Congress. In July, Republicans agreed to a budget that increased domestic spending levels over the next two fiscal years, lifting the budgeting ceiling and preventing poison pill amendments that have spotted work on spending bills.

The House was able to enter the Appropriations Process earlier and passed all of its FY20 appropriations bills in June, spending 3% more on each of the twelve bills than the Senate decided to spend. The House FY20 Agriculture bill included OFA’s top priority bill language telling USDA to implement the OOL rule within 180 days, funded NOP at $18 million, funded ORG at $8 million, funded SARE at $45 million and provided $1 million for ODI.

Now the House and Senate meet in Conference Committee to find compromise on the bill.  The $1.2 billion difference between the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations bills could have a huge impact on the final funding levels for organic FY20 priorities. Organic Farmers Association will be working hard to make sure organic programs receive the funding they need for 2020.

Still befuddled on how our Government’s Spending Process works?   Check out this helpful infographic for a quick overview.