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Policy Update: Biden Releases “Skinny” Budget Proposal

Today, President Biden released a $1.5 trillion “skinny” budget proposal, which will serve as a blueprint for the FY 2022 federal appropriations process. Although Congress is not obligated to hew to the President’s request, it provides a sense of the Administration’s priorities. Overall, the proposal calls for a 16% ($118 billion) total increase in discretionary spending from FY 2021, with the largest increases going to the Departments of Education, Commerce, Health and Human Services, and the EPA.

The budget includes $27.8 billion for USDA, which is a $3.8 billion (or 16%) increase from the 2021 enacted level. The budget increases Climate Hub funding, provides funding for rural broadband, specifically mentions funding to support their 30×30 initiative, and more. The budget proposal:

  • Expands Broadband Access
    • $65 million over the 2021 enacted level for Reconnect, the Rural e-Connectivity Program.
  • Provides Safe Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure to Rural Communities.
    • $717 million for Rural Water and Wastewater Grants and Loans, an increase of $100 million over the 2021 enacted level, including:
    • $25 million for grants targeted to Colonias, Native Americans, and Alaska Native Villages.
    • $75 million for grants targeted to rural, poor communities.
  • Addresses the Growing Threat from Wildfire. 
    • $1.7 billion for high-priority hazardous fuels and forest resilience projects, an increase of $476 million over the 2021 enacted level.
  • Invests in Critical Research and Development Capacity for Farmers. 
    • $4 billion, or $647 million above the 2021 enacted level, for USDA’s research, education, and outreach programs.
    • $161 million above the 2021 enacted level to integrate science-based tools into conservation planning in order to measure, monitor, report, and verify carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas reduction, wildlife stewardship, and other environmental services at the farm level and on Federal lands.
  • Bolsters Voluntary Public and Private Lands Conservation. 
    • Supports 30×30 through investments in the health and resilience of public and private lands. These investments would encourage voluntary conservation on forests, farms, and ranches, while allowing landowners to continue to work their land.
    • $100 million to address orphan oil and gas wells as well as abandoned mine lands.
    • $40 million increase for USDA’s climate hubs to expand climate science tools and increase landowner awareness of—and engagement in—efforts to combat climate change.
  • Helps Rural Communities Use Clean Energy. 
    • $400 million in new funding to give rural electric providers financial flexibility as they accelerate to carbon-pollution free electricity by 2035.
    • $6.5 billion in loan authority for rural electric loans, an increase of $1 billion over the 2021 enacted level, to support additional clean energy, energy storage, and transmission projects that help put people back to work in good-paying jobs.
  • Partners with Rural Leaders to Grow Rural Economies and Tackle Rural Poverty.
    • $32 million for an initiative to help people in high poverty communities tap into Federal resources, referred to as the “Strikeforce” initiative.
  • Takes Steps to Advance Equity. 
    • Establishes an Equity Commission to review how current farm programs may have contributed to racial and geographic inequities for farmers.
    • Significantly increases the budget for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at USDA.
  • Fosters Development of Regional Food Systems.
    • $1.2 billion, an increase of $74 million over the 2021 enacted level, for the Food Safety and Inspection Service to bolster the capacity of small and regional meat processing establishments and ensure safe food production.
    • $15 million for the local agriculture marketing program (LAMP) to support local supply chains.
    • Supports fulfillment of the Administration’s promise to strengthen anti-trust enforcement within the agriculture sector.
  • Supports a Strong Nutrition Safety Net. 
    • $6.7 billion, more than $1 billion above the 2021 enacted level, for critical nutrition programs, including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
About the Author
Emily Liss

Federal Policy Associate

eliss@farmland.org

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