Senate FY 2017 Ag Appropriations Promote USDA Post in Cuba

airport sign in Cuba
Next stop: Havana
May 19, 2016
WASHINGTON, DC – This morning, the Senate Committee on Appropriations unanimously voted to advance their $147.7 billion Fiscal Year 2017 spending bill for agriculture and nutrition programs.

The discretionary funding, $21.25 billion, is consistent with that proposed by the House bill and $250 million below the FY 2016 discretionary funding level.

A boost in funding is included for:  agricultural research ($25 million), USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service ($44.9 million), Natural Resources Conservation Service ($13.6 million), Food Safety and Inspection Service ($19 million), and Food and Drug Administration ($39 million).

USA Rice Vice President of Government Affairs Ben Mosely said, “USA Rice is particularly happy to see the devotion of $1.5 million towards staffing USDA personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba.  We organized a letter with a wide array of agricultural support requesting appropriators to provide the funding and we’re glad our suggestion was incorporated into the bill.”

Mosely added, “Level funding for international food aid programs that incorporate U.S.-grown commodities such as rice is considered a win to our organization.  Food for Peace and the McGovern-Dole aid programs are important to the U.S. rice industry.”

Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, said, “Our bill not only invests in crucial priorities like agricultural research, food safety and inspection services, but also increases flood prevention and conservation efforts by addressing watershed project backlogs in all 50 states.  It also incentivizes military veterans to explore career opportunities in production agriculture.”

The bill will now require the approval of the full U.S. Senate as does the House’s version before they may be conferenced to work out their differences.  It’s still unknown whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will bring the bill to the floor of the Senate for a vote before the chambers leave Washington for summer recess in July.

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