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Senator Blunt Applauds Key Agriculture Priorities In Passage Of Omnibus

January 26, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) applauded the U.S. Senate’s passage of key agriculture priorities that were included in the omnibus this weekend. Blunt, who currently serves as Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, led the efforts to secure several key priorities that were included in the final legislation.

“Agriculture is the number one industry in Missouri and is responsible for roughly 16 percent of our state’s workforce. Nationwide, the agriculture industry supports more than 16 million jobs, and the programs in this bill impact the lives of every person, every day, across America,” said Blunt. “I’m pleased we were able to provide more certainty for our nation’s farmers and ranchers so they can continue working to feed the country and the world.”

Agriculture Highlights In The Bill:

• Supports Critical Competitive and Formula Agricultural Research Programs: Competitive research funded through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative is increased to $325 million and formula funding for land-grant, historically black, Hispanic, and Native American colleges and universities is maintained at the Fiscal Year 2014 level. In addition, the agriculture division of the omnibus maintains funding for capacity building at non-land-grant colleges of agriculture. Several Missouri institutions directly benefit from agricultural research funding including the University of Missouri, Missouri State University, Lincoln University, Washington University, the University of Central Missouri, Northwest Missouri State, Southeast Missouri State University, Truman State University, and the Danforth Plant Science Center.

• Maintains the Support for Farm Bill Implementation: The legislation fully funds the Farm Service Agency (FSA) at $1.2 billion and rejects the administration’s proposal to close 250 county offices and eliminate 815 county staff positions nationwide. Missouri has over 99,000 farms that rely on the FSA to assist them as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) continues to implement a Farm Bill that advanced the most significant changes to farm programs in a generation. The legislation directs FSA to conduct a comprehensive workload analysis based on new Farm Bill requirements before proposing further restructuring of the agency footprint.

Fully Funds Mandatory Inspection Requirements: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is fully funded to meet federal requirements of providing in-plant inspection of all domestic processing and slaughter establishments that prepare meat, poultry, and egg products for sale or distribution into commerce – a total of approximately 6,427 facilities in all 50 states. There are approximately 148 meat, poultry, and egg processing facilities in Missouri that rely on FSIS inspectors to maintain operations.

• Grants Flexibility to Assist Schools Struggling to Meet New School Meals Standards: The legislation allows states to grant targeted exemptions from new, 100 percent whole grain-rich requirements for those schools that are having difficulty procuring products that meet the requirements, either for financial reasons or because of student acceptance. Local schools sought this regulatory relief after experiencing difficulty procuring products that meet the new standards.

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