Letter

Dear Chairwoman Baldwin, Chairman Bishop, Ranking Member Hoeven, and Ranking Member Harris:

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) commends the subcommittee for its work in support of farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. NASDA represents the Commissioners, Secretaries, and Directors of agriculture in all 50 states and 4 territories. NASDA members are co-regulators with the federal government and strong advocates for American agriculture.

As you begin the fiscal year (FY) 2023 appropriations process, NASDA asks you to prioritize the following programs that enhance farmers, ranchers, and rural communities and ensure a safe, affordable, and abundant food supply.

1. Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA): Produce, Animal Food, Produce Safety Alliance, Food Safety Outreach Program

a. $34 million – Produce Safety Rule Implementation, State Cooperative Agreement Program
b. $6 million – Animal Food Preventive Controls Rule Implementation, State Cooperative Agreement Program
c. $10 million – Food Safety Outreach Program (FSOP)
d. $2 million – Produce Safety Alliance Funding (PSA)

NASDA members are at the forefront of implementing FSMA. Funding these programs will allow NASDA to continue building state regulatory programs required by FSMA and educate and train the farm and food sectors on compliance. The education, outreach, and training provided by state programs, FSOP, and PSA are critical to meeting FSMA’s mandate and ensuring a safe food supply.

2. Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network – $10 million, full funding

Funding will continue efforts to scale assistance programs and create training and partnerships to serve rural Americans—60% of whom live in areas with mental health professional shortages.

3. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Programs

a. National Animal Health Laboratory Network – $30 million, full funding
NAHLN funding is critical for large-scale animal-disease outbreak response. NASDA members, who regulate and oversee animal health in the states, are the first line of defense against animal disease outbreaks and rely on NALHN labs for tracking disease progression and performing tests on thousands of diagnostic samples. Federal funding for the NAHLN will expand surveillance and surge capacity to diagnose diseases and ramp up during emergencies.

b. National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program
The National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program allow APHIS to collaborate with animal health partners throughout the nation to implement high-value projects that enhance prevention, preparedness, detection, and response to the most damaging emerging and foreign animal diseases that threaten the U.S. agriculture.

c. National Veterinary Stockpile – Additional $20 million
The National Veterinary Stockpile is a critical component of APHIS emergency response capability. Additional funding for depopulation equipment is needed to avoid catastrophic supply chain disruption in the event of a Foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.

d. Foreign Animal Disease
NASDA urges providing $1 million to APHIS to strengthen the federal oversight of imported canines and other imports that could transfer foreign animal diseases that will devastate the U.S. livestock industry.

4. National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Programs

a. Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program – $10 million
Since 2010, USDA has executed 552 VMLRP awards to veterinarians. Meanwhile, 1,632 veterinarians have applied to the program. Of those who completed service, 80% remained in underserved rural communities. NASDA urges Congress to exempt VMLRP awards from the 37% withholding tax currently paid by USDA with appropriated dollars to maximize the federal funding provided to the program.

b. Veterinary Service Grant Program – $3.5 million
VSGP offers competitive grant funding to address gaps in veterinary shortage situations by bolstering national food supply veterinary capacity through education and training activities and practice enhancement or expansion.

5. Agriculture Research

a. Agriculture research, education, and extension efforts are vital in creating short and long-term advancements in food and agriculture to benefit farmers, ranchers, industry, and consumers. NASDA supports funding USDA’s Research, Education and Economics mission areas to support short-term and long-term research needs. Specifically, NASDA supports funding for:

  • The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, National Institute for Food and Agriculture, and USDA-Agricultural Research Service.
  • Competitive research grant programs, including the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative and other competitive-based funding initiatives.
  • Maintaining and strengthening program funding through the Hatch, Smith-Lever Act, and other formula-based funding authorities.

b. NASDA supports USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in maintaining a focus on agricultural-related legal issues within the National Agricultural Library and encourages ARS and the National Agricultural Library to engage in multi-year cooperative agreements with the Agricultural Law Information Partnership’s partner institutions.

c. Animal Disease Research Funding:

  • Provide $50 million in authorized funding to support the Agriculture Advanced Research and Development Authority, authorized in Section 7132 of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018.
  • $11.8 million for the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS). This represents a $500 increase over FY 2019 and maintains FY 2021 funding. NARMS serves as a source of data for the approval of new animal antibiotics and the post-approval safety monitoring of these compounds.

d. Minor Crop Pest Management Program (IR-4):

  • NASDA recommends funding this program at the authorized funding level because developing pest control tools has high regulatory costs. This funding ensures safe and effective agrichemicals and biopesticides are available for small, specialty crop markets.

6. Agricultural Trade

NASDA supports maintaining funding for essential export promotion and market development funds provided by the Agricultural Trade Promotion and Facilitation programs. NASDA requests at least $200 million for the Market Access Program and $34.5 million for the Foreign Market Development program. In addition, we ask for discretionary funds to provide $7 million – less than 3 percent of the program investment – for USDA administrative and operational costs. With administrative funding in place, the full investment of MAP and FMD can be realized for the intended purpose of U.S. agricultural export promotion and long-term market development.

7. Gene Editing

NASDA requests report language directing USDA and FDA to implement a more appropriate pathway for agricultural applications of these innovations under USDA. U.S. livestock producers face many urgent challenges, such as zoonotic disease, climate change, and helping to feed a growing global population, which require us to consider new solutions to protect our food supply and sustainably meet demand. Gene editing is one technology that holds tremendous promise to help America’s food and agricultural producers address these challenges.

8. Wildlife Services

NASDA supports $82 million in no-year funding for FY 2023 to implement the complete modernization of the U.S. Geological Survey, National Wildlife Health Center. The NWHC is the nation’s only federal BSL-3 facility exclusively dedicated to scientific investigation and research on wildlife diseases that threaten human, animal, and environmental health.

9. Urban Agriculture

Urban farming has grown more than 30 percent in the U.S. in the last 30 years. There is great potential for urban agriculture to help address the poverty, unemployment, and food insecurity that often come as a result of urbanization.

  • NASDA supports funding the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production at the full authorized level of $25 million.
  • NASDA recommends an additional $14 million for the urban agriculture data collection initiative.

10. Cyber Security

Recognizing the potential cyber security risks of the agriculture industry is a gap in agriculture’s preparedness for such an attack. As industry giants and cooperatives have undergone cyber-attacks within the last year, the agriculture industry needs to be better equipped to deal with these threats from foreign nation actors.

NASDA supports fulling funding of the Comprehensive Food Safety Network Consortium at the full authorized level of $20 million. This consortium was authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (7 U.S. Code § 5925).

Conclusion

NASDA thanks you for your careful consideration of these requests as you work to fund the programs that enhance farmers and ranchers and ensure a safe, affordable, and abundant food supply. If you have any questions, please contact RJ Karney, senior director public policy, rj.karney@nasda.org.

Sincerely,
Ted McKinney
Chief Executive Officer

Date Sent:

June 2, 2022

Sender:

NASDA CEO Ted McKinney

Recipient:

House and Senate Committees on Appropriations, Subcommittees on Agriculture Leadership

Subject:

Request to prioritize programs that enhance farmers, ranchers and rural communities

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