Press releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA.) announced today that the FY2018 agriculture appropriations bill saves American taxpayers $7.9 billion while still funding critical programs, including helping Louisiana fight an epidemic that is rapidly eroding the state’s coastline.

Discretionary and mandatory funding in the Fiscal Year 2018 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill is more than $7 billion below current funding levels.

The bill directs federal agencies to develop a plan for eradicating the Roseau cane mealy bug that is threatening Louisiana’s coast.  The Senate Committee on Appropriations approved the bill today

“I cannot stress enough the importance of destroying this bug.  It is gobbling up our marshes faster than Pac-Man, and I’m not being flippant.  This little bug is decimating all the progress we’ve made on slowing coastal erosion,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Anyone who lives in Louisiana knows that we have been in a battle to save our disappearing coastline.  This bug threatens every single advancement we’ve made.”

Sen. Kennedy also voted in favor of an amendment that forbids the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from using taxpayer funds to inspect horse slaughter factories.  This amendment will curtail the horrific slaughter of horses.  Louisiana is home to wild horses in the Kisatchie National Forest and other areas of central Louisiana.

Bill Highlights:

Agricultural Research –$2.55 billion to support agricultural research conducted by the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. 

Cottonseed - Language is included to make cottonseed eligible for Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage payments beginning with the 2018 crop year and the Dairy Margin Protection Program would receive adjusted production margins.

  • Cottonseed is a valuable commodity for Louisiana cotton farmers, and now it will be eligible for loss coverage.  This will help our Louisiana farming families from devastating losses.

National Finance Center – Language directing Congressional support of the recovery efforts related to the tornado that destroyed the National Finance Center located in New Orleans, which displaced nearly 1,300 USDA employees.  It also reassures our commitment to keeping those jobs in New Orleans by restricting the USDA from relocating the National Finance Center without congressional approval.

  • This Louisiana-based center is an important part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  It handles payroll and human resources for employees across more than 100 federal agencies.

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) – $953.2 million to continue programs that control or eradicate plant and animal pests and diseases threatening U.S. agriculture production.

  • An estimated 225,000 acres of wetlands in the Mississippi River’s Delta region along the Gulf of Mexico have been impacted by an invasive bug that is destroying marshland.  The Committee has agreed to direct work to begin on the development of an integrated management program for control of the Roseau cane scale insect pest infestation. 

Farm Service Agency (FSA) – $1.521 billion for FSA for various farm, conservation, and emergency loan programs important to the nation’s farmers and ranchers.  It prohibits the closure of FSA county offices, and provides resources for personnel and physical security programs across county offices.

  • The Farm Service Agency has an office in Alexandria, LA.  This agency granted nearly $500 million in assistance to our Louisiana farmers and ranchers in Fiscal Year 2016.

Rural Development – $675.3 million for Rural Development salaries and expenses, the same level as FY2017. Louisiana is a major recipient of these funds each year from various accounts within the Rural Development program.

  • Business and Industry Loans – The legislation supports $1 billion in grants and loans for rural business and industry programs that promote small business growth in rural areas.  The bill includes funding for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative to improve access to affordable, healthy foods in underserved areas.
  • Rural Utilities – $1.25 billion for rural water and waste program loans, the same as the FY2017 enacted level; $394 million for water and waste grants, and $18 million for the Circuit Rider program.  The bill also provides $6.94 billion for rural electric and telephone infrastructure loans and $30 million for broadband grants.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – $2.8 billion in discretionary funding for the FDA, $1 million over the FY2017 enacted level.  Overall, total FDA funding, including user fee revenues, is $5.2 billion, which is $491 million above FY2017.  The bill does not support new user fees or the associated cuts to budget authority as proposed in the budget request.  Food safety activities are fully supported, and the bill provides $60 million as authorized in the 21st Century Cures Act.