The fiscal year 2014 omnibus spending package approved by the House and Senate combines all 12 appropriations bills for spending categories including Agriculture, Energy and Water and other areas that impact farmers into one measure – allocating funding for programs within each category. The farmers of the American Soybean Association welcomed action on the bill – noting that several of the programs represent significant policy priorities for soybean farmers. The bill’s energy and water section includes provisions that will significantly increase funding for waterways components. The provisions are strongly supported by ASA and have been priorities for the Water Resources Development Act. The increase in spending for port and navigation channel improvements is another victory for ASA. The bill provides one-billion dollars from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for port and navigation channel maintenance and dredging. ASA President Ray Gaesser says waterways infrastructure is critical for soybean farmers. He says the work of the appropriations committee is not only a policy victory for ASA and other waterways stakeholders – but also a positive sign the WRDA conference committee may be nearing completion with similar provisions for waterways funding in future years.
In the spending measure’s agriculture section – ASA applauds the allocation of 316.4-million dollars for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. From innovations in weed science and biotechnology to new ways to manage water and inputs – Gaesser says the products and practices yielded by agricultural research are what have made U.S. agriculture great. The Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition programs also received funding in the agriculture section of the bill. Both programs provide nations in need with assistance in the form of American-grown agricultural commodities – including in many cases – soybean meal and soy flour. Also provided is funding for USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. NASS is directed to resume previously-suspended reports and begin compilation of several Current Industrial Reports formerly conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. ASA led efforts to provide adequate funding to NASS to resume the reports.