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Heinrich Leads Effort to Secure Full Funding for WIC in Agriculture Appropriations Bill, Announces $11.2 Million for 20 Local Projects in New Mexico

Legislation fully funds WIC, maintains vital rental assistance for Americans in rural communities, protects resources farmers and producers count on, and protects America’s food and medicine supply

WASHINGTON – As Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) issued the following statement after the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill was announced. 

The Agriculture Appropriations bill that Heinrich authored and led bipartisan negotiations on includes full funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children—better known as WIC—which serves nearly 7 million women and children nationwide. It also includes $11,208,150 for 20 local projects across New Mexico.  

“As Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, I stood firm against House Republicans’ proposed cuts to WIC, securing full funding for WIC and other programs that will help put food on the table for kids in New Mexico and across the country,”said Heinrich. “Make no mistake — we had to make tough decisions to get this bill where it needed to be. But I am pleased to have fought for and secured investments that will continue to grow our economy and put the interests of New Mexico’s families, farmers, and rural communities first.” 

This week, both the House and Senate are expected to vote on the Agriculture Appropriations bill alongside five other bipartisan appropriations bills, including the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill; the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill; the Commerce, Justice, and Science bill; the Interior and Environment bill; and the Energy and Water Development bill. 

Nutrition Provisions in the FY24 Agriculture Appropriations Bill  

The bill delivers critical funding to ensure women, infants, and children can get the nutrition they need, and it protects vital nutrition assistance programs for families across the country with tight budgets. 

  • WIC: The bill fully funds the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)—which serves nearly 7 million women and kids nationwide—by providing $7.03 billion for the program, a $1.03 billion increase over fiscal year 2023 that meets the administration’s updated request. This increase will ensure that all eligible young families can continue to rely on the essential nutrition assistance and support provided by WIC. The bill also continues full funding for additional fruit and vegetable benefits.  
  • SNAP: The bill fully funds the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to serve an estimated 42 million people per month—and does not include any new restrictions on eligibility. 
  • Child Nutrition: The bill fully funds Child Nutrition Programs —like the School Lunch program, school breakfast program, and summer EBT program—to ensure schools can continue to serve healthy meals. In 2024, this funding will help serve an estimated 5 billion lunches and 2.6 billion breakfasts to kids across the country. 

Additional Highlights of the FY24 Agriculture Appropriations Bill  

Economic Development: Heinrich secured a $2 million investment in the Southwest Border Regional Commission (SBRC), which supports economic and community development in southern New Mexico. The Commission is one of seven authorized federal regional commissions and authorities. In the previous two annual federal spending bills, Heinrich successfully secured the first ever congressional investments to finally allow the SBRC to jump-start and expand its operations.  

Conservation: Heinrich secured provisions directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to place greater focus and resources on drought resilience and other western water issues. Additionally, the bill provides $951 million for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to support voluntary conservation practices on private land. This funding helps farmers and producers improve soil health, conserve water, enhance fish and wildlife habitat, conserve energy, improve woodland, pasture, and rangeland conditions, and reduce natural hazard risks. The bill directs NRCS to include a greater focus on drought resilience and other Western water issues while maintaining support for important water quality efforts in the Midwestern and Eastern United States. 

Tribal Communities: Heinrich secured report language encouraging the USDA to strengthen the Office of Tribal Relations and support Tribal seed banks to bolster food sovereignty within Tribes and Pueblos. Heinrich also championed investments in bison production, securing $2 million in funding for a new Bison Production and Marketing Grant Pilot Program within the Agricultural Marketing Service to expand markets for private and Tribal bison producers and $700,000 for federal inspection of Tribal bison processing. Federal inspection will support food sovereignty by enabling Tribes to include bison raised on their own lands in federal nutrition programs like school meals. 

Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production: The bill includes $7 million for the USDA Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (OUAIP), which provides technical assistance to urban and innovative producers, increases access to grants for small-scale farmers, and invests in composting and food waste initiatives. Albuquerque hosts one of 17 Farm Service Agency Urban Agriculture Service Centers nationwide, and the OUAIP has made significant investments in New Mexico to strengthen local food hubs and develop new market opportunities for small farms throughout the state.  

Food and Drug Administration: The bill provides $6.72 billion in total funding for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including supporting the FDA’s authority to approve drugs based on safety and efficacy. This bill also includes funding to support the FDA’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and builds on support for Alzheimer’s Disease with continued access to the accelerated approval pathway and ensuring it remains available to expedite access to drugs and treatments for Alzheimer’s and other diseases. 

Housing and Rural Development: In rural communities, including in New Mexico, home prices and rents are hitting never-before-experienced levels. This bill protects the housing programs within the USDA and ensures that Americans in rural communities who qualify will receive the housing assistance they need. Specifically, the bill includes $1.6 billion for rental assistance to ensure rural Americans have access to safe and affordable housing, an increase of $120 million over fiscal year 2023. It also decouples rental assistance from Multifamily Direct Loans, which will prevent thousands of low-income families from losing rental assistance. This bill also funds critical Rural Development programs supporting broadband access, water and wastewater systems, and rural business development. 

Agriculture Research: Agricultural research plays a vital role in supporting farmers and producers, particularly as they continue to respond to higher supply costs, a constrained labor market, and a changing climate. This bill includes $1.79 billion—a $44 million increase—for the Agricultural Research Service, the USDA’s premier in-house research agency, to conduct research relating to important topics such as soil health and drought resilience, pest and disease resistance, value-added products, and agricultural innovation. This includes over $2 million in direct funding for New Mexico State University research on agrivoltaics, sustainable specialty crops, wind erosion, and precision rangeland management, among other topics. 

Food Safety: The bill provides $1.19 billion for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), an increase of $32 million over fiscal year 2023. This funding will help ensure FSIS can continue its vital work protecting America’s food supply without being forced to reduce its staffing levels, which would jeopardize food safety and exacerbate supply chain delays.  

Promoting Competition: The bill provides an increase of $2.5 million for enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act to promote competition and prevent unfair or deceptive practices and monopolies. 

Congressionally Directed Spending:

The bill also includes significant funding for 20 local projects across New Mexico. Heinrich fought to secure this funding, which will improve public safety and fire response, access to medical and mental health care and community spaces, Tribal food sovereignty, and more.  

Heinrich successfully included funding for the following 15 local projects: 

  • $2,171,000 for the Town of Red River to construct an operations and maintenance facility for the Fire Department and Town transit busses
  • $1,575,000 for the Town of Springer to design and construct a new fire department substation
  • $1,500,000 for the Costilla Volunteer Fire Department to construct a new fire station
  • $825,000 for City of Anthony Public Safety to build a central administrative building for fire, police, and other administrative departments in the city government
  • $749,000 for the Pueblo of Tesuque to construct a new building and update farm equipment to provide members of the community with no-cost access to fresh, organic, native agricultural products
  • $605,000 for San Juan County Fire and Rescue to purchase replacement breathing apparatuses that protect firefighters from harmful gases and particulates
  • $495,000 for the City of Portales Fire Department to purchase a new rescue engine  
  • $375,000 for Santa Ana Pueblo to build a garage and vehicle maintenance facility to house Pueblo emergency vehicles, school buses, and other vehicles
  • $300,000 for Hidalgo County Emergency Medical Services to expand their current building  
  • $289,000 for the Logan Ambulance Service to purchase a new ambulance that will service Logan, Tucumcari, and Harding Counties
  • $275,000 for the Roosevelt County Detention Center to plan, design, and complete necessary electrical and plumbing upgrades
  • $234,000 for Taos County Fire and EMS to purchase a wildland fire engine and a utility terrain vehicle that will aid in fire mitigation efforts around the state 
  • $151,000 for Sunrise Clinics to purchase the property where they operate a dedicated mental health clinic
  • $81,000 for the Aztec Public Library to replace the roof of the building
  • $49,000 for Hozho Voices of Healing Center to purchase a tractor and equipment to create a native seed bank

Heinrich and U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) also successfully included funding in the bill for three projects at the New Mexico Department of Agriculture: 

  • $200,000 for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture to update equipment and provide technical assistance to communities for agricultural emergency planning  
  • $150,000 for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture to purchase veterinary diagnostic services equipment
  • $100,000 for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture to detect and eradicate invasive toxic plants

Heinrich, Luján, and U.S. Representative Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.) also successfully included funding in the bill for the following project in New Mexico:

  • $1,000,000 for the Mescalero Apache Tribe to construct a new Head Start Center

Heinrich and U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) also successfully included funding in the bill for the following project in New Mexico:  

  • $84,150 for Casita de Comida to expand the Española Food Bank