(BIVN) – The U.S. House Committee on Appropriations approved a measure funding agriculture and food security programs nationally, and although Congressman Ed Case touted the multiple ways the bill will benefit his home state of Hawaiʻi, he still voted against “no”.
Rep. Case said in a news release that he “could not support the overall measure in its current form because its proposed reduction of overall funding to $17.1 billion, a level last seen in 2007, does not match current needs.”
The $25.3 billion in spending supports the bulk of the programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and is among twelve bills to collectively fund the federal government for Fiscal Year 2024, which commences October 1.
“The proposal slashes funding to critical programs I have supported in the past including harmful changes to the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) cash value voucher that cuts benefits for 5 million women, infants and children enrolled in the program,” Case wrote. “In another example, this funding measure will hurt my Hawai‘i by denying assistance to needy farmers through the distressed farm loan program.”
Case was still able to secure a number of programs and provisions in the FY 2024 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations, including:
- $36 million for Agriculture Quarantine Inspections to prevent infestations of pests and diseases.
- $15 million for the Minor Crop Pest Management Program to provide expert assistance to minor and specialty crop producers.
- $122 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
- $269 million in ReConnect funding to meet continued strong demand to provide loans, grants and loan-grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas.
- $32 billion for child nutrition programs, a $3.5 billion increase over FY 2023, which includes the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and Summer Food Service Programs.
- $1.2 billion for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service that includes $9 million for specialty crop pests.
- $1.6 billion for the Rental Assistance Program.
- $374 million for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which provides food to low-income seniors.
- $125 million for the USDA Wildlife Damage Management Program.
- $50 million for loans authorized in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002.
- $20 million for Rural Cooperative Development Grants including $8 million for the Value-added Agricultural Product Market Development Grant Program.
- $8 million for the Grassroots Source Water Protection Program that is designed to prevent water source pollution.
- $3.5 million for Agricultural Canine Detection and Surveillance of invasive species and diseases, an increase of $500,000.
- Maintenance of funding for coffee research to address the threats of Coffee Leaf Rust and Coffee Berry Borer on our iconic coffee industry.
- Recognition of the critical need for continued tropical and subtropical crops research.
- Maintenance of funding for research on the macadamia felted coccid.
- $5 million for Education Grants for Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions, the first increase for this vital program in years. This program addresses the educational needs of food and agricultural sciences-related disciplines and prepares low-income students for careers related to food, agricultural and natural resources.
- $2 million for aquaculture research programs and recognition of the essential role the program plays in regional aquaculture centers.
The measure also provides:
- Provides $91 million for the Economic Research Service.
- Recognizes the importance of continuing to support combatting invasive species in the Indo-Pacific.
- Protects the current funding level for the macadamia tree health research initiative.
- Directs the Agricultural Research Service to ensure each of its facilities housing animals are adhering to the Animal Welfare Act at all times.
- Continues to support coordinated research efforts to address the impact of the Avocado Lace Bug.
- Supports strategies to mitigate the impact of axis deer on native forests.
The bill now moves onto the full U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.