The League of Conservation Voters and Natural Resources Defense Council led 15 environmental organizations in sending the below letter to the House of Representatives urging Members to oppose the following amendments to H.R. 4368, the House Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bill when they come up for votes. The League of Conservation Voters will strongly consider including votes related to these amendments in our 2023 National Environmental Scorecard.
September 26, 2023
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
Re: Amendment Vote Recommendations on H.R. 4368, the House Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations bill.
On behalf of our millions of members and supporters, the Natural Resources Defense Council, League of Conservation Voters, and the undersigned groups make the following vote recommendations opposing amendments to H.R. 4368, the House Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bill. While not all undersigned organizations work directly on each of these issues, we appreciate your consideration of these pro-environmental positions.
With the passage of the Rule and the self-executing manager’s amendment from Rep. Harris, H.R. 4368 makes even deeper cuts to overall funding for the USDA, slashing it down to levels last seen before 2001 – 41 percent lower than last year. For legislation meant to support our nation’s hardworking farmers, ranchers, rural communities, agricultural producers, and small businesses, this bill will instead make it harder for them to make ends meet. The underlying bill will also severely undermine the significant climate progress made in the Inflation Reduction Act: it contains capricious cuts to the Empowering Rural America (New ERA) initiative and the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), both of which were designed to lower energy costs for rural families and small businesses while strengthening their communities’ energy systems; it contains callous rescissions of billions of dollars in relief for farmers in financial distress, or who have faced discrimination; and much, much more.
Once again, we urge you to oppose these harmful amendments, below.
Thank you for your consideration,
Natural Resources Defense Council
League of Conservation Voters
Alaska Wilderness League Action
Clean Water Action
Climate Action Campaign
CCAN Action Network
Defenders of Wildlife
Environmental Working Group
National Young Farmers Coalition
Prairie Rivers Network
Union of Concerned Scientists
Western Watersheds Project
15. Biggs (AZ). The Office of the Chief Economist at USDA is responsible for information and data-driven analyses of current and emerging issues impacting agriculture. This amendment would further limit the resources of this office by slashing its budget by $11.4 million.
29. Biggs (AZ). This amendment further slashes funding for the Agricultural Statistical Service by $12.9 million, making it even harder to support the farmers and ranchers who depend on this program to understand the impact of the market on changing economic situations.
32. Bishop (NC). This amendment cuts funding for the Agricultural Research Service by $300 million down to FY20 levels, reducing its capabilities to conduct and provide scientific research that impacts everything from farm to table.
33. Biggs (AZ). This amendment cuts funding to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture by an additional $157 million on top of the underlying bill’s cuts of nearly $850 million below the President’s budget request. Agricultural research is critical for keeping pace with addressing the climate crisis and empowering farmers to stay competitive.
36. Bishop (NC). This amendment cuts funding for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The Centers for Disease Control estimates that three-quarters of “new or emerging” diseases that infect humans originate in nonhuman animals. Reducing funding for APHIS would hamper our ability to prevent and respond to outbreaks that are a potential risk to human populations.
41. Brecheen (OK). This amendment cuts Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) funding to FY16 levels. The underlying base bill already drastically cuts funding for NRCS, and if enacted, this amendment would further hamstring USDA’s ability to deliver on farm technical assistance to farmers at the front line of climate change.
61. Biggs (AZ) and 62. Donalds (FL). These amendments cut funding for the Commodity Futures Trading Corporation to FY19 and FY18 levels respectively. Funding CFTC at either level will limit its effectiveness as the watchdog against market manipulation to protect farmers from unfair price spikes.
64. Graves (LA), 65 Graves (LA), and 81 Burlison (MO). These amendments prohibit funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which would keep food from those in need and restrict access to vital nutrition support.
67. Bost (IL). This amendment would prohibit the Secretary of Agriculture from purchasing electric vehicles. This amendment needlessly restricts USDA from reaping the economic, climate, and environmental benefits of EVs.
73. Cammack (FL). This amendment prohibits funds from being used to finalize or implement any federal rulemaking or regulation that has resulted in or is likely to result in an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more. Blanket policies like this hamstring an agency empowered to protect American consumers and producers while making American agriculture competitive.
75. Miller (IL). This amendment prevents funding for USDA’s Climate Hubs. Climate Hubs have the potential to improve efficiency and effectiveness of programs to support climate-friendly agriculture and food waste reduction. This amendment would eliminate the Climate Hub’s ability develop and deliver science-based, region-specific information and technologies with USDA agencies and partners, to agricultural and natural resource managers that enable climate-informed decision-making.
80. Self (TX). This amendment would prohibit funds from being used toward the Civilian Climate Corps (CCC). The CCC combines national service with workforce training to rally a new generation around the need to confront the climate crisis; it will build a versatile corps of workers with the skills to help conserve and restore waters and lands, make our communities more resilient, speed the shift to clean energy and advance environmental justice.
82. Roy (TX) and 101 Miller (IL). These amendments prohibit funds from being used to implement President Biden’s executive orders that help reduce pollution, adapt to climate change, improve clean energy. As climate change continues to exacerbate impacts of flooding, extreme heat, and wildfires, this amendment will halt important progress that the Biden administration has made to address climate change and environmental injustice, including through implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act.
88. Greene (GA). In the middle of one of the hottest summers on record and perhaps the hottest year on record, this amendment would prohibit any funding for “climate change” or “green energy” initiatives. Ignoring climate change, as this amendment seeks to do, will further exacerbate the impacts from climate change we are facing today. Limiting FDA’s ability to install energy efficiency measures in their new facilities would increase energy consumption and energy cost for these facilities.
102. Rosendale (MT). This amendment would take us back even further, reducing appropriations by an additional $717 million. The proposed reductions to USDA’s budget in the underlying base bill are already the lowest funding levels seen in decades, and would be deeply damaging to farmers and consumers across the country.
The following amendments go against our organizations’ commitment to racial justice and equity – we urge opposition on any en bloc that includes these or similar amendments: 24 Good; 69 Miller; 79 Boebert; 89 Boebert; 98 Boebert; 99 Stauber; 100 Good.