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Blunt Highlights Missouri Ag, Infrastructure Priorities in FY2020 Legislative Package

December 19, 2019

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), a member of the Appropriations Committee, announced that several Missouri priorities were included in the following FY2020 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 bill has passed the Senate and is headed to the president’s desk.

“The funding measures make critical investments in two of my top priorities: strengthening our transportation networks and enhancing economic opportunities for Missouri farm families,” said Blunt. “Missouri is a national transportation hub, and location is our greatest competitive advantage. That’s why I’m pleased that resources in this bill will go toward programs that have played an important role in helping our state improve roads, bridges, airports, and other critical infrastructure. Agriculture is a top economic driver in our state, and this bill supports our farmers and ranchers by increasing resources for rural broadband and ag research. I’ll continue advocating for resources that will better position our state to take advantage of the great economic opportunities today and in the years 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 $3.2 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 $425 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, a $10 million increase over FY2019.

o Policy Research Centers: The legislation provides $8 million for policy research cooperative agreements, an increase of $3 million over FY2019. This investment will assist with the analysis of national and international projections of agricultural markets and the rural economy. 

o Building and Facilities: The measure includes $25 million for the construction of a new plant bioscience lab at the University of Missouri.

o NIFA and Economic Research Service (ERS): The legislation does not include any U.S. House of Representatives riders to prevent the relocation of NIFA and ERS to Kansas City, Mo. In November, Blunt joined Missouri Governor Mike Parson and Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas in welcoming U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to Missouri to tour the new site for ERS and NIFA. In a Kansas City Star op-ed, Blunt highlighted the benefits of relocating ERS and NIFA to Kansas City.

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

 Farm Service Agency (FSA): The legislation includes more than $1 billion for various farm, conservation, and emergency loan programs that Missouri farmers and ranchers rely upon. The bill also prohibits the closure of FSA county offices.

• Natural Resources Conservation Service: The bill provides $830 million for conservation operations and technical assistance, an increase of $10 million over FY2019, 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, a $25 million increase from FY2019. Additionally, the bill includes $5.6 million for the East Locust Creek Reservoir Project, which will provide water to rural communities. 

• Disaster Assistance: The bill redirects disaster relief funds that are set to expire at the end of the calendar year to assist agricultural producers who have been affected by natural disasters, including drought, excessive moisture, and quality losses of crops, in 2018 and 2019.

• Rural Development: The legislation provides over $3.1 billion for Rural Development programs and activities, including infrastructure, community development, rural housing, and water programs.

o Rural Broadband: The bill includes $550 million for the ReConnect Pilot Program. The program targets areas that currently lack access to broadband and includes provisions that prevent overbuilding existing infrastructure. The bill also includes $50 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 $1.5 billion for rural water and waste program loans, $443 million for water and waste grants, and over $6.9 billion for rural electric and telephone infrastructure loans.

• Food & Drug Administration: The bill includes $5 million for Animal Feed Ingredient Reviews at the Center for Veterinary Medicine.

• Secure Rural Schools: The legislation includes a two year extension of the Secure Rural School program. Public schools and localities in 29 Missouri counties receive critical support from the program to fund vital education and infrastructure projects. 

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies:

• Federal Highway Administration: The legislation includes $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. The bill includes $46.3 billion in obligation limitation from the Highway Trust Fund for the Federal Highways Program, consistent with the FAST Act. In addition, the bill includes $2.2 billion in discretionary appropriations for highway programs, of which $781 million is for the Surface Transportation Block Grant program, and $1.15 billion is for bridge repair and rehabilitation.

• U.S. Maritime Administration: The legislation includes $9 million for the Marine Highway Grant Program, which helps states like Missouri maximize the efficiency of waterborne transportation. Also, the bill 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, and the Bella Vista Bypass in McDonald County. This program has also funded the replacement of the Champ ClarkBridge over the Mississippi River in Louisiana, Mo., and the replacement of the Route 47 Bridge over the Missouri River in Washington, Mo.  

• Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): The legislation provides $17.6 billion in total budgetary resources for the FAA, fully funding all air traffic control personnel and providing increased funding for aviation safety personnel.

• Contract Towers: The measure fully funds the contract tower program at $170 million. There are five airports in the state that depend on the contract tower program, including Joplin, Columbia, Branson, Jefferson City, and St. Joseph.

• Essential Air Service: The bill fully funds the Essential Air Service program at $162 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 $7.6 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, which is $651 million above the FY2019 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 $10.5 million for operation and maintenance work activities, including critical structure maintenance for navigation.

Inland Waterways Trust Fund: The bill includes $131 million for the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. 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 $375 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, healthcare, 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 $760 million for the Weapons Activities account at the National Nuclear Security Administration, an increase of $224 million above FY2019 funding levels. 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 $2.6 billion for the operation of the National Park System, which is almost $74 million above the FY2019 enacted level. In addition, the bill includes more than $2.2 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. In March 2018, Blunt’s legislation to establish the Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park and designate it as a unit of the NPS was signed into law.

Water Infrastructure: The bill includes more than $2.7 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 $1.6 billion for the FWS, which is $65 million above the FY2019 enacted level. The bill includes important program increases including $46 million for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, $25 million for combatting invasive species like Asian Carp, and $7 million for the Recovery Challenge Grant Program.

400 Years of African-American History Commission: The bill includes a Blunt-backed provision that clarifies the use of federal funds provided to the 400 Years of African-American History Commission. 

Preserving America’s Battlefields Act: The bill includes Blunt-backed legislation that encourages the preservation and protection of nationally significant battlefields, including those that were part of the Civil War, the American Revolution, and the War of 1812. 

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