President Biden recently proposed a 9% increase in total funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Fiscal Year 2023, including significant boosts for wildlife conservation and climate research program areas.
The USDA’s budget justification for the $31.1 billion indicates that the department’s goals regarding conservation and climate, guided by Biden’s “America the Beautiful” initiative, are moving forward. Under the proposal, the Department of Agriculture would allot $1.2 billion to address climate change across private, working agricultural land and $1 billion to support landowners in undertaking conservation and climate-smart practices on agricultural lands.
The USDA requested increased funding levels for key wildlife and conservation agencies within the department.
The APHIS Wildlife Services program, which addresses wildlife-related threats to humans and natural resources, has a funding request of $141 million for FY 2023, up 6% from the $133 million enacted in Fiscal Year 2022. Of that funding, $116 million would go toward Wildlife Damage Management, a division that provides technical assistance to protect agricultural land and livestock from native and non-native species and wildlife disease. The remaining $25 million would go toward research and development conducted by the National Wildlife Research Center on methods pertinent to the management of avian and invasive species populations that impact agriculture, natural resources, animal health and human health.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) implements several Farm Bill programs and seeks $1 billion in discretionary funding to administer conservation-related technical assistance in Fiscal Year 2023. This technical assistance is offered to farmers at no personal cost and provides help with watershed restoration, wildlife habitat management and soil erosion reduction. Additionally, the NRCS hopes to secure $21 million to support key climate priorities including establishing a soil health monitoring network and integrating soil carbon monitoring into the conservation planning process.
The U.S. Forest Service requests a total budget of $9 billion, with $3.9 billion proposed for wildfire management and $318 million for Forest and Rangeland Research, which will continue investing in scientific research priorities like climate change resilience and adaptation.
Other highlights of the USDA budget proposal include increased funding levels for mandatory conservation programs with the current Farm Bill: $2 billion is requested for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, up $175 million from FY 2022, and $1 billion is requested for the Conservation Stewardship Program, up $200 million from FY 2022.
Congressional appropriators have begun the process of developing appropriations bills for FY 2023. They may consider the administration’s budget request during that process, but are not obligated to follow it.
As more information is revealed about FY 2023, which begins in October, TWS will re-examine and submit additional appropriations requests regarding these program areas. Members of TWS can check out the appropriations action center in the coming weeks for updates on the administration’s USDA requests as well as TWS’ positioning on FY 2023 funding.
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