November 2020: OVERVIEW AND SUMMARY OF THE BILL:  The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies appropriations bill provides funding for a wide array of Federal programs, mostly in the U.S. Department of Agriculture [USDA].

These programs include agricultural research, education, and extension activities; natural resources conservation programs; farm income and support programs; marketing and inspection activities; domestic food assistance programs; rural housing, economic and community development, and telecommunication and electrification assistance; and various export and international activities of the USDA.

The bill also provides funding for the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] and allows the use of collected fees for administrative expenses of the Farm Credit Administration [FCA]. The discretionary programs and activities of USDA and FDA that are supported by this bill include high priority responsibilities entrusted to the Federal Government and its partners to protect human health and safety, contribute to economic recovery, and achieve policy objectives strongly supported by the American people.

The ability to provide for these measures is made difficult by growing pressure on available levels of discretionary spending as a consequence of the overall public debate on Federal spending, revenues, and size of the Federal debt. Too often, the USDA programs funded by this bill are confused with farm subsidies and other mandatory spending more properly associated with multi-year farm bills.

In contrast, this bill provides annual funding for programs familiar to all Americans such as protecting food safety through the Food Safety and Inspection Service [FSIS] and the FDA, which also plays a vital role in maintaining the safety of the Nation’s blood supply and availability of safe and effective medical products and other components of our health system. This bill also provides funding to fight against the introduction and spread of noxious, infectious, or invasive pests and diseases that threaten our plant and animal health environments, as well as funding for many other missions of dire importance to the American people.

In the context of overall pressures on spending and the competing priorities that the Committee faces, this bill as reported provides the proper amount of emphasis on agricultural, rural development, and other programs and activities funded by the bill. It is consistent with the Subcommittee’s allocation for fiscal year 2021.

All accounts in the bill have been closely examined to ensure that an appropriate level of funding is provided to carry out the 2 programs of USDA, FDA, and FCA. Details on each of the accounts, the funding level, and the Committee’s justifications for the funding levels are included in the explanatory statement. The Committee is aware of the impact the COVID–19 pandemic has had on agency operations across the Federal government.

To date, Congress has provided over $2,900,000,000,000 in emergency supplemental relief in order to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID–19. The Committee continues to monitor agency needs directly related to COVID–19 and, to the extent necessary, will seek to address them in future supplemental appropriations vehicles. Accordingly, funding provided in the Committee’s regular fiscal year 2021 appropriations bill is focused on annual funding needs unrelated to the COVID–19 pandemic.

Fiscal year 2020 levels cited in this explanatory statement reflect amounts enacted in the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (Public Law 116–94) and do not include fiscal year 2020 supplemental appropriations. Accordingly, any comparisons to fiscal year 2020 do not reflect fiscal year 2020 supplemental appropriations. Fiscal year 2020 supplemental appropriations are included in the comparative statement of new budget authority at the end of this explanatory statement under the heading ‘‘Other Appropriations’’.

 

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