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WIC and Foreign Ag Land Addressed in Funding Bills

The Hill’s Aris Folley reported on Sunday that “congressional leaders on Sunday finally revealed long-awaited bipartisan bills to fund parts of the government for most of the year, setting off a bicameral sprint to avert looming shutdown threat in less than a week. ”

“The weekend rollout entails six full-year spending bills to fund a slew of agencies until early fall, including the departments of Agriculture, Interior, Transportation (DOT), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Veterans Affairs (VA), Justice (DOJ), Commerce and Energy,” Folley reported. “The 1,050-page bipartisan package includes more than $450 billion in funding for fiscal year 2024. Lawmakers have until Friday to pass the legislation or risk a partial government shutdown under a stopgap plan President Biden signed into law this week to buy more time for spending talks.”

Here’s a look at several agriculture-related provisions included in the bills released on Sunday:

Foreign Agricultural Land Ownership

Progressive Farmer’s Chris Clayton reported Monday that lawmakers are taking steps toward addressing foreign ownership of U.S. agricultural land in the spending bills, as “the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture will finally get a seat on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) as part of the funding package released Sunday by congressional appropriators.”

“The funding bill makes the USDA secretary a member of CFIUS when it comes to dealing with transactions involving agricultural land, biotechnology and industry,” Clayton wrote. “The bill also requires USDA to notify CFIUS of agricultural land transactions under the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act that may pose a risk to national security. Under the deal, USDA receives $1 million to improve its collection and reporting of foreign transactions as well.”

Fern’s Ag Insider’s Chuck Abbott reported that “some 43.4 million acres, or 3.4 percent, of U.S. agricultural land is owned or leased by foreign entities, according to USDA data.”

WIC Receives Additional Funding

Politico’s Garrett Downs reported Monday that “top lawmakers agreed to add an extra $1 billion to WIC for fiscal year 2024, likely staving off a rapidly approaching funding cliff that could have pushed eligible moms and babies onto waiting lists.”

“Under the agreement, WIC would be funded at just over $7 billion,” Downs wrote. “That’s a major win for Democrats, who for months have pushed to boost WIC at the request of the White House, amid opposition from hard-right Republicans and House GOP negotiators. Some centrist House Republicans, however, pressed for House GOP leaders to approve the WIC funding boost, according to a person familiar with negotiations.”

“The bill also does not include any new restrictions on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),” Clayton reported.

USDA Funding Bill

The overall USDA-FDA funding bill keeps the agencies “funded at a little over $26.2 billion under the agreement, roughly the same as current levels,” Downs reported.

However, “a number of cuts from fiscal 2023 were made,” he wrote. “The Farm Service Agency is funded at $1.209 billion, about six million dollars below fiscal 2023. The Natural Resources Conservation Service is funded at $914.9 billion, $26 million below fiscal 2023. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is funded at $1.162 billion, a $9 million cut.”

The overall USDA-FDA funding bill includes some of the most consequential changes in the proposed appropriations package, with the removal of “nearly every controversial rider,” Downs reported.

“That includes riders to ban mail-order of the abortion pill mifepristone, restrict the use of the Commodity Credit Corporation and end the USDA’s rulemakings to beef up the Packers and Stockyards Act, a 1921 competition law,” Downs reported.

Ryan Hanrahan is the Farm Policy News editor and social media director for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked in local news, primarily as an agriculture journalist in the American West. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri (B.S. Science & Agricultural Journalism). He can be reached at

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