2017 agriculture appropriations bill addresses Mississippi interests

FY2017 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration Appropriations Bill moves out of committee. Legislation would prevent shuttering of county FSA offices.  

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran is continuing the Senate charge to complete FY2017 appropriations bills as early as possible this year with successful committee passage of a measure that supports agriculture production, research, and conservation programs in Mississippi.

Cochran, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today supported approval of the FY2017 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration Appropriations Bill. The action means the committee has approved six of the 12 annual appropriations bills for next year.

The Senate bill supports federal agriculture, rural development, conservation programs, food safety, and nutrition assistance for children, families and seniors.

“This appropriations bill would help protect public health, enhance agricultural research and promote rural development throughout the country. In Mississippi, it is an important source of federal funding for research conducted by our universities, in addition to support for rural development,” Cochran said. “I look forward to consideration of this and other appropriations measures before the full Senate.”

The Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations program is funded for the first time since FY2010, with $150 million available for this Natural Resources Conservation Service program.  Flood control, sediment reduction and related projects in Mississippi will be eligible for these resources.

The bill provides $9.5 million in Agriculture Research Service (ARS) funding for water supply and sustainable water use research activities, some of which is expected to be used to address decreasing water levels within the Mississippi River Valley Alluvial Aquifer on which Mississippi and other Mid-South states rely.

The legislation restores $47.6 million in ARS extramural research program funding that the President’s budget request recommended eliminating.  Of this funding, $15.1 million will support work conducted at Mississippi State University, the University of Mississippi and the USDA-ARS research center at Stoneville.  In addition, $1.5 million in ARS funding is included to increase research capacity for cotton ginning laboratories, one of which is located in Stoneville.

In addition, the Senate measure prevents the USDA from closing Farm Service Agency county offices.

Other items of interest to Mississippi in the FY2017 Agriculture & Rural Development Appropriations Bill include:

  • Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS):  $1.03 billion for food safety and inspection programs. The bill includes language clarifying congressional intent on the timeframe for domestic and foreign compliance with the FSIS catfish inspection program.
  • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS): Within APHIS funding, $11.5 million is provided for cotton pests, $25.4 million for the national feral hog program, and an additional $1.0 million to support aquaculture damage management and research efforts.
  • Rural Development: Within USDA Rural Development, $3.0 million is provided for the Delta Regional Authority and $3.0 million is provided for a competitive grant program for rural health care services. The bill makes up to $16.9 million available to the circuit rider program that benefits rural water associations in Mississippi.
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA): The bill includes language encouraging the FDA to utilize innovative clinical trial methodology that is being pioneered at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. It also has language directing the FDA to provide the cotton industry with technical assistance when developing food safety regulations for the use of cottonseed in animal feed.
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