Washington, D.C. Update

March 22, 2024
Congress Passes First FY2024 Appropriations Package
This week, Congress passed a six-bill appropriations package containing the funding bills for both the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for fiscal year (FY) 2024. The bill included about $26.3 billion in discretionary funding for USDA, which is roughly equal to the amount provided in FY2023. The bill also includes $1,000,000 for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service for a project on water-smart rice in Texas. This project was requested by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX). For EPA, the bill includes $9.2 billion in funding, a $232 million decrease from the FY2023 level. It also directs EPA to consider the best available science when implementing regulations for pesticide licensing. It directs EPA to brief the Appropriations Committees on potential revisions to its pesticide rule regarding plant-incorporated protectants (PIPs). It also directed the EPA to brief the Appropriations Committees on how the Agency complies with the recent court decision on its chlorpyrifos rule. The bill passed out of the House on Wednesday. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill before a partial government shutdown begins on Saturday, March 9.
The bill text for the appropriations package can be found here. The explanatory report for USDA can be found here, and the explanatory report including EPA can be found here, with the EPA section beginning on page 34.
House Agriculture Committee Releases Report on Labor Policy Recommendations
On Thursday, the House Agriculture Committee’s bipartisan Agricultural Labor Working Group released its final report outlining policy proposals to address the workforce challenges facing the agricultural sector. The report follows the November release of the interim report which outlined the issues in industry the working group identified through stakeholder outreach conducted throughout 2023. Policy proposals recommended in the report include improvements in how the Adverse Effect Wage Rate is calculated, ways to streamline the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program’s application and review process, and a change to the H-2A program to make it available year-round. In addition, the report called for research on the H-2A program to better inform future policymaking.
A copy of the report can be found here and a copy of the interim report can be found here
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