President Joe Biden’s proposed budget places an emphasis on rural infrastructure, nutrition, and climate change mitigation. The fiscal year 2022 discretionary funding request includes a notable funding increase for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). According to the 61-page summary, the budget request includes a 16 percent increase in funding for USDA, for a total of $27.8 billion. The additional discretionary funding would be outside of mandatory funding specified through the farm bill.
“The President’s budget provides the resources to build back better, stronger, and more resilient and equitably than ever before,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release. “This is our moment to solve big challenges by acting boldly—to close the broadband gap facing rural America; to work with farmers, ranchers and producers to transform our nation’s food system and build new markets here and abroad; to protect and manage our nation’s forests and grasslands from catastrophic wildfires; and to ensure Americans have access to healthy and nutritious food.”
Research, education, and outreach programs from USDA would be bolstered by $4 billion under Biden’s proposed budget. Conservation efforts would also be supported by an additional $161 million over 2021 levels. Additionally, USDA climate hubs will also receive an extra $40 million in support of climate change mitigation efforts. USDA will also work to connect rural stakeholders with federal assistance resources with $32 million in support for the expansion of the efforts.
“NACD is encouraged by the proposals to strengthen funding for conservation,” National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) President Michael Crowder said in a news release. “President Biden’s budget includes significant investments within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Forest Service that will bolster voluntary conservation across the country.”
The discretionary spending proposal will ultimately be decided by Congress. Funding levels in the proposal are on top of the multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure and stimulus plans released by the Biden Administration. A formal budget document that includes mandatory funding areas will be released by the White House in the coming weeks.