The House Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee advanced its draft bill to the full committee on June 18. A full committee markup originally scheduled for June 25 was postponed. Among the agencies funded in the bill are the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) research and statistical agencies, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the Economic Research Service (ERS), and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The Committee Report is available here. COSSA has joined the Friends of Agricultural Statistics and Analysis (FASA), a new coalition of stakeholders who care about timely, accurate, and objective food and agricultural statistics, on several letters to House staff to request stronger appropriations for ERS and NASS.
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture would see a $5.2 million cut from FY 2015, $218.8 million below the President’s request. Hatch Act programs would be flat-funded. NIFA’s investigator-initiated grants program, the Agricultural Food and Research Initiative (AFRI), would receive a $10 million increase from FY 2015, still well below the Administration’s request of $450 million. Language in the Committee Report asks for additional clarity in next year’s budget request on how proposed funds for AFRI would be spent:
“For the fiscal year 2017 budget request, the Committee is particularly interested in the request for AFRI, and requests that the agency provide greater detail on the levels proposed to be allocated to and the expected publication date, scope, and allocation level for each request for awards to be published under each priority area specified in section 2(b)(2) of the Competitive, Special, and Facilities Research Grant Act (7 U.S.C. 450i(b)(2)).”
The USDA’s principal statistical agencies, the Economic Research Service and the National Agricultural Statistical Service, do not fare as well under the House bill. The bill proposes an 8.6% cut for ERS, which would bring its funding down to $78.1 million. NASS would receive an $11.2 million cut from FY 2015, leaving it 10.6% below the level proposed in the President’s budget request. These cuts would likely force both agencies make cuts to their core products and services.