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Blunt Announces Missouri Ag, Infrastructure Priorities in FY2021 Legislative Package

December 21, 2020

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), a member of the Appropriations Committee, announced that several Missouri priorities were included in the following FY2021 funding bills: Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies; Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies. The bills are part of the larger government funding package that Congress is expected to consider shortly.

“As a national transportation hub, the investments we make today to modernize Missouri’s roads, bridges, rail networks, and waterways will save taxpayer dollars and provide a stronger foundation for economic growth for years to come,” said Blunt. “Missouri’s deteriorating roads and bridges cost drivers about $8 billion a year, according to a recent study. This bill provides resources for programs that have funded critical infrastructure projects, whether it’s building a new bridge along I-70, updating inland waterway locks and dams, or bringing broadband to families, farmers, and businesses in rural communities. The legislation also prioritizes funding for programs that help strengthen Missouri’s role as a leader in ag production and research. I will continue advocating for programs and policies that will position our state to take advantage of the great economic opportunities that lie ahead.”

Following are the Missouri priorities included in the legislation:

Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies:

·        Agricultural Research: The bill provides $3.3 billion to support agricultural research conducted by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). This investment will support research, education, and extension activities at the University of Missouri, Missouri State University, Northwest Missouri State University, Lincoln University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ARS facility in Columbia, Mo.

o   Agriculture and Food Research Initiative: The bill includes $435 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, a $10 million increase over FY2020.

o   Policy Research Centers: The legislation provides $8 million for policy research cooperative agreements. This investment will assist with the analysis of national and international projections of agricultural markets and the rural economy. 

o   Livestock Genetic Research: The bill includes over $1.5 million for ARS to conduct livestock genetic research.

o   Missouri River Research: The bill includes resources for ARS to initiate Missouri River Basin Water Resource Management Research.

·        Farm Service Agency (FSA): The legislation includes nearly $1.16 billion for various farm, conservation, and emergency loan programs that Missouri farmers and ranchers rely upon, an increase of $21 million above the FY2020 enacted level. The bill also prohibits the closure of FSA county offices.

·        Natural Resources Conservation Service: The bill provides $833 million for conservation operations and technical assistance to help farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners conserve and protect their land.

o   Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program: The measure includes $175 million for the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program. Additionally, the bill includes $10 million for the East Locust Creek Reservoir Project. Blunt has led efforts to secure funding for the East Locust Creek Project to address severe water shortages in North Central Missouri. The East Locust Creek Reservoir service area includes Mercer, Putnam, Schuyler, Grundy, Sullivan, Adair, Livingston, Linn, Macon, and Chariton counties.

·        Rural Development: The legislation provides over $3.2 billion for Rural Development programs and activities, including infrastructure, community development, rural housing, and water programs.

o   Rural Broadband: The bill includes $635 million for the ReConnect Pilot Program. The program targets areas that currently lack access to broadband and includes provisions that prevent overbuilding existing infrastructure. Over the past two years, Missouri has received nearly $200 million in funding through the Blunt-backed  program, amounting to about 20% of all the support provided nationwide. The bill also includes $65 million for Distance Learning/Telemedicine and Broadband grants that will help expand access to modern, high-speed internet services in rural areas. Blunt has led efforts to end the digital divide that has left about one-third of rural Missourians without access to broadband.

o   Water and Electric Infrastructure: The measure includes nearly $1.45 billion for rural water and waste program loans, $463 million for water and waste grants, and over $1 billion in grants and loans for rural business and industry programs that promote small business growth in rural areas.

o   Goodfellow Relocation: The bill includes $45.8 million to support the Goodfellow facility relocation in St. Louis, Missouri.

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies:

·        Federal Highway Administration: The legislation includes $48 billion for the Federal Highway Administration, including $1.1 billion for roads, tunnels, and bridges through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant program, which has funded critical infrastructure projects in Missouri including the Rocheport Bridge.

·        U.S. Maritime Administration: The legislation includes $11 million for the Marine Highway Grant Program, which helps states like Missouri maximize the efficiency of waterborne transportation. The bill also includes language allowing inland ports to be eligible for the Port Infrastructure Development Program.

·        BUILD Grants: The measure includes $1 billion for Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Grants, previously known as TIGER Grants. This program has also funded critical infrastructure projects in Missouri, including the Rocheport Bridge, the Buck O’Neil Bridge in Kansas City, the port loop track terminal at the SEMOPort, the South Main Corridor Improvement Project in Maryville, the new rail industrial park in Sedalia, a multi-use bicycle and pedestrian path in Springfield, the Kansas City Streetcar Main Street Extension project, the East Locust Creek Reservoir Project, the Bella Vista Bypass in McDonald County, the replacement of the Champ Clark Bridge over the Mississippi River in Louisiana, Mo., and the replacement of the Route 47 Bridge over the Missouri River in Washington, Mo.

·        Contract Towers: The measure fully funds the contract tower program at $172.8 million. There are five airports in the state that depend on the contract tower program, including Joplin, Columbia, Branson, Jefferson City, and St. Joseph. In October, Blunt commended the U.S. Department of Transportation after it announced that the Jefferson City Memorial Airport will be eligible to receive a 100% federal subsidy to cover the costs of operating the contract tower program.

·        Essential Air Service: The bill fully funds the Essential Air Service program at $141.7 million. The Essential Air Service program provides resources to small and rural airports to ensure that travelers can connect with larger airports. The Essential Air Service provides support for airports in Cape Girardeau, Waynesville-St. Robert, Joplin, and Kirksville.

Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies:

·        U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: The legislation provides more than $7.7 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, which is $145 million above the FY2020 enacted level. The funding will support vital flood control and navigation projects across Missouri and the nation.

·        Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP): The bill includes language that advances the NESP, which authorizes the modernization of seven locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi River.

·        Missouri River Bank Stabilization and Navigation Program: The legislation provides $9.4 million for operation and maintenance work activities, including critical structure maintenance for navigation.

·        Lower Missouri River: The bill includes language that urges the Corps to work with state and federal agencies and stakeholders to identify authorities and opportunities for the development of a more comprehensive, system-wide plan for flood control in the Lower Missouri River Basin. Blunt has also introduced legislation, cosponsored by all of the senators from the lower Missouri River basin states, that would overhaul the Corps’ process for managing projects along the lower Missouri River system.

·        Inland Waterways Trust Fund: The bill makes full use of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund revenues. The bill also ensures the resources inland navigation operators put into the Inland Waterways Trust Fund are used for construction and modernization of our nation’s locks and dams.

·        Mississippi River and Tributaries Project: The legislation includes $380 million for the Mississippi River and Tributaries Project, providing vital funding for the Corps to fulfill its flood control and navigation missions.

·        Delta Regional Authority (DRA): The bill provides $30 million for the DRA with a focus on infrastructure development in rural areas, including $15 million for flood control, public infrastructure, and transportation improvements. The DRA provides infrastructure, health care, and economic development assistance to 29 counties in Southeast Missouri.

·        Small Ports: The legislation includes $65 million for the dredging of small ports, including those in Missouri located on the Mississippi River.

·        Kansas City National Security Campus: The bill provides more than $4 billion for the Infrastructure and Operations account at the National Nuclear Security Administration. This funding is essential to the operation of the Kansas City National Security Campus, and will help ensure the safety, security, reliability, and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile.  

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies:

·        National Park Service (NPS): The measure provides nearly $2.68 billion for the operation of the National Park System, which is almost $111 million above the FY2020 enacted level. In addition, the bill includes more than $8.3 million in dedicated funding for new responsibilities at existing parks and newly authorized park units in the NPS, including the Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park. The bill also provides funding for land acquisition for the Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park through the Land & Water Conservation Fund. Blunt helped lead efforts in Congress to establish the Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park, which became a part of the NPS this year. Blunt participated in the ceremony celebrating the establishment of the park in November.

·        Water Infrastructure: The bill includes more than $2.76 billion for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan funds, which help states and localities improve water infrastructure.

·        U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS): The legislation provides more than $1.5 billion for the FWS. The bill includes funding for important programs including $46 million for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, $25 million for combatting invasive species like Asian Carp, and a $9 million increase for the Recovery Challenge Grant Program.

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