PORK INDUSTRY PRIORITIES INCLUDED IN SPENDING BILL

March 18, 2022

Congress in early March approved a $1.5 trillion fiscal 2022 budget bill, which keeps government programs running through Sept. 30 and has $730 billion for non-defense spending, including $25.1 billion for agricultural programs, mostly for USDA, with significant amounts dedicated to addressing foreign animal diseases (FADs).

Thanks to the advocacy efforts of NPPC — literally hounding lawmakers about appropriating adequate funds to prevent, prepare for and respond to FADs and arguing for other priorities — Congress listened, giving the pork industry almost everything it requested.

It’s been a difficult Congress to get pork industry priorities across the finish line. The infrastructure package had to be brought back from the dead and Build Back Better took up much of the rest of the oxygen. Appropriations bills repeatedly were put off until it got to the point that a “continuing resolution” (CR) to fund government programs at 2021 levels for the rest of the fiscal year was a real possibility. Indeed, repeated CRs made it tougher to get funding increases in the final omnibus package. Even in a good year, getting multiple plus-ups in different appropriations accounts is a huge win. It is almost unheard of to get more than one or two priorities funded or increased in a fiscal year, and multiple enormous plus-ups to USDA programs is extremely rare.

Over the past several years, Congress has had to pass annual spending bills against the backdrop of the pandemic and threats of a government shutdown. It has been a stressful process in the midst of the most divisive political environment the nation ever has experienced. For the most part, extenuating circumstances have dominated the process that, while not directly involving the pork industry, had a great impact on producers’ livelihoods. Because of this, obtaining pork-specific provisions has been challenging. These realities caused most organizations to limit their requests of Congress to only one or two high-profile items. But NPPC is not most other organizations. Faced with ever-changing global and domestic challenges, NPPC didn’t have the luxury of limiting its requests. In a process where the appropriations committee typically grant one, maybe two, issues for the pork industry, NPPC was able to secure additional funding for programs or extensions on provisions related to 20 issues. In all, nearly $6 billion in federal funds that directly benefit the hog industry were in the final omnibus bill.

Not only did NPPC achieve all those victories, but the victories impact almost every aspect of the pork industry. Wins such as extending Livestock Mandatory Reporting and a waiver from restrictions on livestock trucking, securing hundreds of millions of dollars for agricultural research, ensuring APHIS can continue its Agricultural Quarantine Inspection program and addressing labor shortages is an absolute home run given the circumstances.

NPPC even was successful — in a Congress where Democrats control both houses — in preventing detrimental riders to the Interior/EPA appropriations bill, successfully blocking Clean Air Act permitting requirements for livestock and the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock facilities to EPA. It also staved off a policy related to climate change — championed by a majority of lawmakers — that could have negatively affected the industry and one that could have prohibited the use of faster harvesting line speeds at packing plants. NPPC took the lead on most of those successes, sometimes working with very little support from other organizations. Here is a list of wins for producers included in the fiscal 2022 omnibus spending bill:

AGENCYITEM
USDA AMSLivestock Mandatory Reporting authorization extended to end of FY22.
USDA APHIS$46,039,000 increase in top-line funding
USDA APHIS$25,390,000 for Swine Health line item (up from $25,020,000)
USDA APHIS$61,414,000 for Veterinary Diagnostics line item (up from $56,979,000)
USDA APHIS$20,282,000, to remain available until expended, shall be for zoonotic disease management (up from $19,620,000)
USDA APHIS$42,021,000, to remain available until expended, shall be for emergency preparedness and response (up from $41,268,000)
USDA APHIS$24,307,000, to remain available until expended, shall be used to carry out the science program and transition activities for the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (up from $20,252,000)
USDA APHISContinuance of provision allowing the transfer of funds in the event of a disease outbreak
USDA FSISProvision to prohibit new, and eliminate existing, line speed waivers in meat and poultry plants was not included.
USDA NIFA$445,000,000 for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative ($10m increase)
USDA REE$1,000,000 to further build out planning and management structure of AGARDA
USDA$3.5b in total ag research funding (increase of $217m from FY21)
USDA RUS$550m for expanding broadband access, including $450m for USDA ReConnect
DOL / DHSContinuance of H-2B Returning Worker provision from FY21
DHS CBP$250,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2023, to offset the loss resulting from the coronavirus pandemic of quarantine and inspection fees collected (AQI)
DHS CBPReport language: Agricultural Inspections. CBP shall continue working with USDA to better leverage existing staff to address the agricultural inspection workload, such as through the authorization of additional work hours or dual certification.
DOT FMCSAElectronic logging device (ELD) requirements delayed for livestock transporters
EPAProhibition on Clean Air Act Title 5 greenhouse gas permits for livestock
EPAProhibition on EPA funds to require reporting of GHG emissions from manure