Senate Appropriations Committee

Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee

President’s Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for the U.S. Department of Agriculture

124 Dirksen
Tue, 10 May 2022 14:00:00 GMT

Hearing page

Chair Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.)

  • Tom Vilsack, Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture

The 2023 request for discretionary budget authority to fund programs and operating expenses is $31.1 billion, slightly more than 12 percent increase, or $3.8 billion, above the 2021 enacted level. The 2023 request for mandatory programs is $164.8 billion, a decrease of around $10.2 billion from the 2021 level.

Steps are being taken across USDA to improve adaptation and increase resilience to the impacts of climate change, including identifying agency vulnerabilities. Within the Office of the Secretary, $4.5 million is requested to coordinate such activities across the Department. In addition, the Office of the Chief Economist is requesting $6 million for research and analysis necessary to assist stakeholders in implementing climate smart agriculture and forestry practices and oversee the production of the Department’s resilience and climate change adaptation plan. The Budget includes an increase of $39 million above the 2021 enacted for the Forest Service to invest more in research related to climate mitigation, adaptation, and resilience, including expanding the scope and scale of research and program delivery related to reforestation, carbon sequestration, carbon accounting, and fire and fuels research. The Budget includes $6 million for Forest Service and $8 million for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for climate hubs.

The Budget requests $300 million in new funding for rural electric utilities to support the transition to carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035. Additional funding of $15 million is also requested to increase coordination between USDA, Department of Energy, and Department of Interior to support the creation of the Rural Clean Energy Initiative to achieve the President’s clean energy goals. A $261 million funding request for construction, preservation and rehabilitation under Rural Housing Service will target projects that promote clean energy or address climate resilience by improving energy or water efficiency, and energy saving features. The Budget includes more than $134.8 million for the USDA Agriculture Buildings and Facilities account, of which $25 million will provide for the hire and purchase of motor vehicles and the transformation of vehicle fleet to provide hybrid, alternative, and/or electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure.

Additionally, the Budget requests $21 million to support key climate priorities within the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), including establishing a soil health monitoring network that will include a network of soil sampling sites, integrating soil carbon monitoring into the conservation planning process, and efforts to increase the internal capacity of NRCS staff regarding key soil carbon and climate smart activities.

The Budget includes $2.7 billion to mitigate wildfire risk, an increase of $751 million from 2021 enacted. This includes $321 million for hazardous fuels reduction, an increase of $141 million from the 2022 annualized CR level. This builds on the over $300 million in hazardous fuels funding the Forest Service will receive through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in 2023, a significant investment to prioritize and target landscape treatments across multiple jurisdictions.

The Budget includes $2.4 billion for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to protect up to 27 million acres of environmentally sensitive cropland and grassland. In addition, $2 billion is included for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, $1 billion for the Conservation Stewardship Program, $450 million for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, and $300 million for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The budget proposes $20 million for the Healthy Forests Reserve Program to enroll private lands and acreage owned by Indian Tribes for the purpose of restoring, enhancing, and protecting forestland to enhance carbon sequestration, improve plant and animal biodiversity, and promote recovery of endangered and threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Of note, an increase of $41 million for NRCS will expand staffing capacity to keep pace with increased mandatory programs.

The Budget includes $4 billion to support research to advance the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture, promote food security and increase climate change research. Included in the ARS budget is an increase of $99 million for clean energy, $92 million for climate science, $11 million for Greenhouse Gas Monitoring and Measurement, $11 million for Adaptation and Resilience Activities, $55 million for additional investments and $5 million for climate hubs.

For the Economic Research Service, the Budget proposes a total of $100 million to focus on core data analysis related to agricultural production, as well as $2 million for climate science research. For the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the Budget includes $217 million, including $66 million for the Census of Agriculture and $8 million to help measure and inform climate science research.

The Budget includes $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 get people back to work in good-paying jobs. The budget also includes $300 million in new funding to provide rural electric cooperatives financial flexibility as they continue investments in renewable energy systems, fossil fuel generating plants with carbon sequestration systems, and investments in environmental improvements to reduce emissions of pollutants and accelerate progress to zero carbon electricity by 2035 and create good paying jobs that provide the free and fair change to join a union and collective bargain.

The Budget includes an increase of $334 million to support necessary staff levels to enhance response to year-round fire activity and allow the agency to continue important investments that support the health, well-being, and resilience of the agency’s wildland firefighting force.