Senate Agricultural Committee includes authorization for IPM Centers, Specialty Crops research in Farm Bill draft

The preliminary draft of the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013 (2013 Farm Bill) from the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee includes specific authorization for the Regional IPM Centers as well as mandatory funding for five programs from the 2008 Farm Bill.

This first draft is Chairwoman Deborah Stabenow’s markup and can be found at this link. The bill goes to the full Senate Agricultural Committee for markup on May 14. That draft will then be voted on by the full Senate.

Typically for bills that must be passed (such as the Farm Bill), the Agricultural Committees in both the House and Senate create a draft that goes before the full House or Senate for a vote. If the bills vary significantly (which they usually do), a conference committee, made up of members from Congress, drafts a bill that draws a compromise between the two bills. That draft goes to both the House and Senate for a vote.

This is the first version of a Farm Bill draft seen this year. The 2008 Farm Bill expired in 2012.

Mandatory funding is provided for the following five programs:

(1) Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative ($16 million over 5 years); (2) Specialty Crop Research Initiative ($200 million over 5 years); (3) Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program ($85 million over 5 years); (4) Biomass R&D ($130 million over 5 years); and (5) Biodiesel Fuel Education Program ($5 million over 5 years).

In addition to the five year funding for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, the bill  provides a budgetary baseline for the program for fiscal years beyond FY 2018. This permanent baseline will be very important when the 2018 Farm Bill is developed.

The bill provides one-time funding of $100 million for the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a new, 501(c)(3) organization.

The bill also provides explicit authorization for the Regional IPM Centers, in Section 7308, although no funding amount is specified.

New initiatives specified in the bill include:

  • a corn, soybean meal, cereal grains, and grain byproducts research and extension program,
  • a “Pulse Health Initiative” for research and extension efforts related to dry beans, dry peas, lentils, and chickpeas or garbanzo beans
  • an advanced forest products research and extension initiative
  • a “Comprehensive Food Safety Training Network,” to establish and maintain a network for an internationally integrated training system to enhance protection of the United States food supply

To view the bill, go to http://www.ag.senate.gov/issues/farm-bill and click on Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 (Chairwoman’s Mark).

To learn more about how the Farm Bill becomes law, see this blog post.

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