Vilsack believes president’s budget will help farmers, rural communities

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack believes President Joe Biden’s budget will help farmers and ranchers and rural communities.

The Biden-Harris administration on March 28 submitted Biden’s budget for fiscal year 2023 to Congress. Vilsack said it offers vision to expand on progress the United States has made over the last year and deliver the agenda he laid out in his State of the Union address—to build a better America, reduce the deficit, reduce costs for families and grow the economy from the bottom up and middle out. Budgets rarely are approved as submitted as Congress has the duty to approve budgets; however, the president’s requests are an indication of their priorities. The 2023 budget would start Oct. 1, 2022, and go through Sept. 30, 2023.

The USDA budget is proposed at $28.5 billion in discretionary spending, which was a $4.2 billion or 17.1% increase from 2021 approved levels. The proposed budget calls for rural communities to have achieved the goal of transitioning to 100% zero carbon electricity by 2035, which includes $300 million for new funding for grants, loans and debt forgiveness for rural electric providers as they transition to clean energy. It also calls for $6.5 billion in loan authority for rural electric loans to support additional clean energy, energy storage, and transmission projects.

The budget includes providing resources for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help rural America, said Vilsack, in a news release.

“It contains transformational investments that will help rural communities build resilience to the climate crisis, increase landscape resiliency to the impacts of climate change, create more and better markets for our hardworking producers, bolster access to healthy and affordable nutrition for families, help connect all Americans to high-speed, affordable, and reliable internet, strengthen USDA’s efforts to build equitable systems and programming, and position the United States to be a leader in Agricultural Research,” Vilsack said.

The budget makes investments in the American people that will help lay a stronger foundation for shared growth and future prosperity, he said.

Key provisions in the USDA budget include:

• Invest in climate resilience and U.S. agriculture’s ability to be part of the climate solution. As part of Biden’s approach to confronting the climate crisis, the budget proposes $1.177 billion in funding to address climate change across private, working agricultural land. The budget proposes $1 billion to support agricultural producers and landowners to undertake conservation and climate-smart practices on agricultural lands. The budget builds on the $618 million investment to protect and restore watersheds made in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law by proposing an additional $135 million for these efforts.

The budget also builds on the $5.5 billion investment in the U.S. Forest Service made by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to reduce the risk of wildland fire, restore ecosystems, and protect communities. The budget includes $390 million in additional funding to ensure ongoing support for Biden’s direction that no firefighter is paid less than $15 per hour, to hire additional firefighters, increase their pay, and convert more firefighters from temporary to permanent.

• Prioritize consistent access to safe, nutritious food for all Americans. USDA’s core nutrition programs are the most far-reaching, powerful tools available to ensure that all Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity, or background, have access to healthy, affordable food. The budget proposes $111 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a budget level that supports 43.5 million Americans per month. It maintains funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children at $6 billion. In 2023, an average of 6.4 million low-income women, infants and children are expected to participate in the program each month. The budget also proposes to continue the provision of enhanced Cash Value Benefits through 2023 to ensure that all participating women and children have access to recommended levels of fruits and vegetables.

• Build stronger rural economies. The budget invests $935 million in rural America. It builds on the $65 billion investment made by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to make high-speed internet available to all Americans, bring down high-speed internet prices across the board, and provide technical assistance to rural communities seeking to expand broadband through an additional $113 million over the 2022 enacted level for Reconnect to provide access to quality broadband to rural residents and address challenges for Tribal communities.

The budget also provides $300 million to bring affordable electric power to rural residents, Tribal communities, community facilities, schools and medical institutions that perform critical services each day. The budget also provides $1.9 billion and includes a requirement that funding for construction, preservation or rehabilitation will be targeted to projects that improve energy or water efficiency, implement green features, and addresses climate resilience.

• Develop more and better markets for U.S. agricultural products. USDA is working to transform the nation’s food system by making it fair, competitive, distributed, and resilient and by building new markets at home and abroad. The budget builds upon the administration’s efforts to create a fairer, more competitive and more resilient meat and poultry supply chain by providing more than $10 million for oversight and enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act. It also provides support to the Food Safety and Inspection Service to help small and very small processing facilities by reducing user fees. The budget also provides money to support innovation in agriculture and livestock industries, including $22 million for the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives, for example, which supports dairy businesses in the development, production, marketing and distribution of dairy products.

• Ensure underserved groups can more fully access and participate in USDA programs and services. The budget, if approved as presented, continues to root out generations of systemic racism, to deeply integrate equity in decision-making and policymaking and to build equitable systems and programming inclusive of all of its employees and the American people. The budget supports ongoing efforts to help agricultural producers and landowners resolve heirs’ land ownership and succession issues by proposing a program level of more than $60 million. In this budget, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture proposes more than $315 million for Minority-Serving Institutions, an increase of more than $53 million above the 2021 Enacted level.

The budget also proposes $39 million for the Rural Partners Network—a renewed and expanded initiative to leverage USDA’s extensive network of county-based offices to help people in high poverty counties, including energy communities.

The budget calls for working with Congress and stakeholders to identify shared priorities for the 2023 farm bill. The administration also looks forward to working with Congress to address climate change through climate-smart agriculture and forestry and investments in renewable energy that open new market opportunities and provide a competitive advantage for American producers of climate-smart commodities, including small and historically underserved producers and early adopters, and through voluntary incentives to reduce climate risk.

The budget also calls for $11.9 billion in discretionary funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, which is a $2.6 billion or 29% increase. It identifies priorities as investments in water infrastructure, lead pipe replacement and remediation of contaminated and idle lands.

For more information on the fiscal year 2023 budget, visit

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