On Wednesday, the House of Representatives’ Appropriations
Committee passed a fiscal year 2018 funding bill for the USDA with $1 billion
fewer dollars compared to the 2017 fiscal year. The federal budget calendar
runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.
The spending bill cut the USDA’s Agricultural Research
Service (ARS), where the aerial application research unit is housed, by 3
percent compared to last year. However, NAAA again successfully pushed for
language in the committee
report to the bill indicating Congress’s continued support of the USDA-ARS
Aerial Application Technology Program.
The report reads in part, “The Committee recognizes the
importance of the ARS Aerial Application Technology Program. The program
conducts innovative research making aerial applications more efficient,
effective, and precise. Research for aerial application serves the public good
as a vital tool for the future, as agriculture strives to meet the food, fiber,
and bio-energy demands of a growing population.”
The mention of aerial application within the report
supporting the legislation is no small feat, as it is one of only a few ag
programs specifically mentioned. NAAA will continue to work for adequate
USDA-ARS funding for the continued design of aerial application technologies,
tools and techniques that mitigate drift, result in fuel savings and make
aerial applications more efficacious. Favorable committee report language sends
a strong message to the USDA to continue to sustain appropriate funding for aerial
application research despite the budget cuts. Since 2002 NAAA has been
successful in lobbying the government for an additional $8,912,500 in federal
funding for aerial application technology research.
The spending bill still needs to be passed by the entire
House and Senate, then signed by President Trump. The President’s original
budget called for a 21 percent, or $360 million, cut to the Agricultural Research Service within the USDA. This would mean closing the
doors at 17 research centers. NAAA will keep the membership informed of federal
agricultural spending, particularly as it pertains to research for aerial
application technology conducted at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.