Ag programs advance in appropriations

Congress has a few days left to complete the 2020 appropriations process before a continuing resolution expires, and the U.S. House and Senate are still working on spending levels for agriculture

Congress will likely consider another continuing resolution this month to fund federal farm programs, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

“The good news right now is both the House and Senate have passed, in both chambers, a fiscal year ’20 agricultural spending bill,” R.J. Karney, AFBF Congressional Relations director, said in a Newsline intervew. “In the House, the total allocation was $24.3 billion in discretionary funding, and in the Senate, it was a total allocation of $23.1 billion in discretionary funding.”

He noted the differences in the bills include relocation funds for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agencies and stress assistance for farmers.

“In the House, there’s a prohibition on USDA’s relocation of ERS (Economic Research Service) to Kansas City, while in the Senate there’s no prohibition,” he said. “Additionally, there’s a Farmers Stress Assistance Network and the House allocates $10 million, while in the Senate there’s a $3 million allocation.”

A continuing resolution currently funding the government expires Nov. 21. Karney expects lawmakers will need to pass another continuing resolution to complete the 2020 appropriations process.

“All indications are that there will be another continuing resolution to keep the government open past Nov. 21,” Karney said. “House and Senate leadership are currently discussing how long this next continuing resolution should be. It could be as early as December of 2019. There’s also talk of pushing it until February of 2020, and even some rumblings of just doing a full year long resolution that will go to Sept. 30, 2020.”