Monday, May 27, 2024

D.C. Matters

Despite no Farm Bill, the U.S. Congress is at work on agricultural legislation.
Representatives from the U.S. Peanut Federation traveled to Washington, D.C. in March for the annual Spring Fly-In to talk with leaders about peanut industry priorities.

The U.S. Congress recently passed legislation that included six appropriations packages: Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies; Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies; Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies; Interior, Environment and Related Agencies; Transportation, Housing and Urban Development; and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies. President Biden signed this legislation into law March 9.

Congress Passes Agriculture Appropriations Legislation

The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies appropriations legislation funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture for fiscal year 2024. Included in the bill are peanut provisions proposed by agriculture subcommittee ranking member Sanford Bishop (GA-02) and supported by the peanut industry. These U.S. Peanut Federation-supported research initiatives for nutrition and aflatoxin are in their third and fourth years of funding, respectably.

Total funding for fiscal year 2023 was $4 million for aflatoxin research at the USDA’s Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Georgia, plus research at Fort Valley State University and other land grant universities and $1.5 million for the USDA Agricultural Research Service to work on peanut nutrition priorities. The ARS has been working with The Peanut Institute on nutrition projects.

Peanut Research Initiative Funding

For fiscal year 2024, total funding is $2 million for peanut nutrition research and $4 million for aflatoxin research. Legislative report language is as follows:

Peanut Nutrition Research – The committee recognizes the need for more research to identify how peanut consumption contributes to overall health and wellness and reduces chronic disease risk in various groups and across the lifespan. The committee provides an increase of $500,000 to support peanut nutrition research. Research topics should include chronic diseases, nutrition and wellness across the lifespan, health disparities, dietary patterns for optimal health and nutrition for the future.

Peanut Research – The committee provides no less than the fiscal year 2023 level to support research activities to mitigate aflatoxin contamination in peanuts. The committee directs ARS to enhance ongoing collaborations with land-grant institutions to further advance research efforts.

The second tranche of appropriations legislation was approved March 22, fully funding the federal government for fiscal year 2024.

U.S. Peanut Federation Holds Spring Fly-In

Representatives from the U.S. Peanut Federation traveled to Washington, D.C. in March for their annual Spring Fly-In. During the trip, USPF representatives met with key members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, as well as senior agricultural staff to discuss issues facing the peanut industry today. The USPF Fly-In is an essential event to connect with Congress about peanut industry priorities, especially since Farm Bill programs are up for reauthorization in 2024.

During their meetings, USPF representatives discussed the rising costs of production for peanuts, the Price Loss Coverage program and priorities for the Farm Bill. Rising input costs, supply chain disruptions, labor shortages and low prices have all contributed to the difficult conditions peanut farmers are facing today. Without an effective safety net, growers will continue to struggle, and that is the message that USPF representatives voiced on Capitol Hill.

In late 2023, the U.S. Congress passed a one-year extension of Farm Bill programs at the same levels authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill. USPF representatives heard from members of Congress and staff that while the Farm Bill has been extended, work is ongoing. However, there is still uncertainty as to whether a Farm Bill will be considered this year. PG

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