Alexander: Agriculture Funding Bill “Big Win” for Tennessee Farmers

Posted on September 19, 2019

“The bill I voted for today is a win for Tennessee farmers because it funds the Farm Service Agency, Rural Development programs, and agricultural research at Tennessee’s universities.” – Senator Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON, September 19, 2019 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said legislation advanced by the Senate Appropriations Committee is good news for Tennessee farmers.

“The bill I voted for today is a win for Tennessee farmers because it funds the Farm Service Agency, Rural Development programs, and agricultural research at Tennessee’s universities,” Alexander said. “The bill also includes $64 million to help provide access to broadband for rural communities, which will help enhance educational opportunities and economic development in rural areas.

“This bill provides $3.15 billion for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including $8 million and support for several provisions that increase the FDA’s effectiveness in fighting the opioid crisis. Funding for FDA is important to virtually every American – FDA is responsible for implementing 21st Century Cures, working with Congress to bring safe and effective drugs and medical devices to patients more quickly, and is responsible for ensuring the food American’s eat every day is safe.”

The Fiscal Year 2020 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill supports U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agriculture, rural development, and conservation programs that benefit farmers across Tennessee. Tennessee is home to more than 77,000 farms and nearly 11 million acres of farmland. 

The bill provides a total of $3.15 billion for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for protecting public health by assuring the safety and efficacy of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, and cosmetics. The bill includes $8 million for FDA to help fight the opioid crisis, and includes $75 million for the FDA as authorized in the 21st Century Cures Act, legislation Congress passed, and President Obama signed into law in 2016. Alexander was the chief architect of the 21st Century Cures Act, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called it “the most important legislation of the year.”

The Fiscal Year 2020 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, is consistent with the spending limits included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 approved by Congress, and signed by President Trump, in August. The legislation is now ready to be considered by the full Senate.

The Fiscal Year 2020 Department of the Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations bill provides:

  • $3.1 billion for Rural Development -- including $1.45 billion for rural water and waste program loans, $6.94 billion for rural electric and telephone infrastructure loans, and $64 million for broadband grants.
  • $3.15 billion in discretionary funding for the Food and Drug Administration – including $8 million to expand its efforts to fight the opioid crisis. This includes FDA’s work to identify and intercept illicit drugs, such as fentanyl, at International Mailing Facilities; evaluating safer and easier to dispose packaging for opioids; and regulating a new non-addictive alternative for pain management.
  • $3.17 billion to support agricultural research conducted by the Agricultural Research Service and the land grant and non-land grant universities. This amount includes $425 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, which is supported by the University of Tennessee.
  • $1 billion for food safety and inspection programs that work to ensure safe, healthy food while promoting the safety and productivity of meat and poultry industry.

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