Hyde-Smith Worked with Committee Colleagues to Advance Miss. Interests in Senate-Passed Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today said agricultural programs and rural infrastructure projects in Mississippi will benefit from Senate passage of the FY2024 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill (HR.4366).

Senate approval of the bill on Wednesday advances funding for USDA agriculture, rural development, conservation, food safety, and nutrition assistance programs.  The Senate bill is now available for conference committee negotiations when the House passes its version of the measure.

“I believe the Senate has produced a strong, bipartisan Agriculture Appropriations Bill that supports Mississippi’s role in improving agricultural production and innovation, and we’ve done so within spending limitations,” said Hyde-Smith, who also serves on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.

“The demands for infrastructure and basic services in many rural communities are acute, so I appreciate the resources provided in our bill to address water systems and health in Mississippi and across rural America,” the Senator added.

Among the items of interest to Mississippi in the Senate-passed legislation:

  • $9,050,000 for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to carry out watershed and flood prevention improvements in numerous Mississippi watersheds.
  • $1 million for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to combat cormorants on Mississippi catfish operations, in addition to bill and report language directing the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service to continue the catfish inspection program
  • $500,000 for the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce to continue its Wild Hog Control Program and $40,000 for APHIS to assist with rabies surveillance in Mississippi.
  • $18 million for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) surveillance, testing, management and response activities, $13 million of which is for state departments of agriculture and wildlife to respond to CWD.
  • $10 million for the Veterinary Medicine Services Loan Repayment Program and $4 million for the Veterinary Services Grant Program to help alleviate critical shortages of rural food animal veterinarians.
  • $100.9 million for various research activities carried out by the Agricultural Research Service at various Mississippi locations, and in cooperation with Mississippi universities.  
  • $25 million for the Rural Development Circuit Rider Program to assist the Mississippi Rural Water Association and other water associations across the country respond to water system failures.  
  • $731,000 for the Mississippi Rural Health Association to carry out distance learning and telemedicine activities to improve the rural workforce.  
  • $2 million for the Institute of Child Nutrition at the University of Mississippi.
  • Bill language prohibiting USDA from closing any Farm Service Agency county offices.
  • Bill language waiving statutory pay caps to ensure APHIS veterinarians can adequately respond to animal health emergencies, such as the ongoing Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak. 
  • Bill language prohibiting the USDA FSIS from permanently relocating or terminating FSIS veterinarians in Mississippi and other southeastern states.   

The Agriculture appropriations measure passed the Senate as part of a three-bill package that also included the FY2024 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill and FY2024 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill.  All three bills adhere to the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, which Congress passed in June to impose caps on discretionary funding and make other changes affecting spending and revenues.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Fiscal Responsibility Act limitations set on discretionary spending would reduce the budget deficit by roughly $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.