WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, welcomes the Senate Appropriations Committee’s bipartisan, unanimous passage of his Fiscal Year 24 (FY24) Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration Appropriations bill. This legislation includes over $10 million in investments for 18 local projects across New Mexico. Next, the bill will be considered by the full United States Senate.
“This legislation is a reflection of the type of amazing work we can achieve when we push partisan politics aside and focus on solutions for the real challenges facing Americans. From supporting American farmers and ranchers to protecting our food supply and promoting the health and well-being of our children, this bill delivers,” said Heinrich. “I am especially proud that we were able to fully fund WIC, which will ensure women, infants, and children who depend on this vital program receive the nutrition they need. Make no mistake — we had to make tough decisions to get this funding bill where it needed to be. But I am pleased to have found common ground on legislation that will continue to grow our economy and put the interests of families in New Mexico and across the country first.”
Key Points & Highlights
Nutrition: The bill delivers critical new 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.
Food and Drug Administration: The bill includes critical investments in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including supporting the FDA’s authority to approve drugs based on safety and efficacy. This bill also includes critical 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. Specifically, the bill provides a $20 million increase in funding for the FDA to carry out its critical mission to keep families healthy and safe. Additionally, it provides an additional $7 million to conduct oversight of cosmetics for the first time ever, $3.75 million to strengthen FDA’s food safety programs, $3.75 million to address device shortages and supply chain issues, $3 million to advance neuroscience research, and $2.5 million for ALS research.
Housing and Rural Development: In rural communities, including in New Mexico, we are seeing home prices and rents that we have never experienced. This bill protects the housing programs within 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. It would also decouple rental assistance from Multifamily Direct Loans, which will prevent thousands of low-income families from losing rental assistance. This bill also fully 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 ranchers, particularly as they continue to respond to higher supply costs, a constrained labor market, and a changing climate. This bill includes $1.792 billion—a $48.6 million increase—for the Agricultural Research Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) premiere 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 specific funding for important agriculture research in agrivoltaics, sustainable specialty crops, wind erosion, and precision rangeland management, among other topics.
Conservation: The bill directs the USDA to place greater focus and resources on drought resilience and other western water issues. Additionally, it provides $994 million for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and protects funding for operations and Conservation Technical Assistance, which supports voluntary conservation practices on private land. This funding helps farmers and ranchers 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.
Economic Development: The bill includes a $3 million investment in the Southwest Border 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, Senator Heinrich successfully secured the first ever congressional investments to finally allow the SBRC to jump-start and expand its operations.
Tribal Communities: The bill provides funding for a pilot Bison Production and Marketing Grant Program within the Agriculture Marketing Service to expand markets for private and Tribal bison producers. It also supports funding for federal inspection of Tribal bison processing, supporting indigenous food sovereignty by enabling Tribes to include bison raised on their own lands to be included in federal nutrition programs like school meals.
Congressionally Directed Spending
The bill includes significant funding for 18 local projects across New Mexico.
Senator Heinrich successfully included funding for the following 15 local projects:
Senators Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján also successfully included funding in the bill for three projects at the New Mexico Department of Agriculture: