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Senate Committee Advances 2017 Ag Appropriations Bill
USAgNet - 05/20/2016

The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved the Senate version of the FY 2017 Agriculture Appropriations bill. The bill includes $21.25 billion in discretionary spending, including $2.54 billion for ag research through the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute of Food Agriculture.

Similar to the House version, the Senate bill increases funding for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative competitive grants program by $25 million up to $375 million. Farm groups are applauding the increases because the legislation includes an additional $2 million for the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative. This increase reflects the same level in the House Committee-passed version as well.

The bill also includes an amendment from Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) that would require USDA to establish a pilot program for the 2016 crop year that would enable state Farm Service Agency offices to make supplemental Agriculture Risk Coverage program payments in instances where there are significant yield calculation differences in comparable counties. Where such instances arise, within the pilot program, the applicable state FSA office would have an ability to recalculate ARC-County yields for relevant counties based on several specific requirements.

The bill would also provide $1.5 million for USDA to place Foreign Agricultural Service employees in the new Cuban embassy. During the markup, the Committee considered a number of amendments, including one that would require the labeling of genetically engineered salmon as well as one to ban horse slaughter. Following Committee passage, the legislation would now be slated for floor action sometime in the coming weeks.

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