Tidings of Joy for Soy from Several Omnibus Provisions

Dec 20, 2022

Washington, D.C. Dec. 20, 2022. Santa is not the only one who pitter patters overnight in December; Congress was at work in the wee morning hours of Dec. 20, hammering out an omnibus appropriations bill that, if passed by the Friday midnight deadline, will keep the government funded through Sept. 2023 and support selected programs. Just as jolly ol’ St. Nick is known to deliver much-anticipated packages, Congress too has delivered a package that includes several provisions pleasing to soy growers.

The omnibus package includes a revised Growing Climate Solutions Act—the bipartisan bill that first cleared the Senate back in June 2021. ASA has supported that legislation, which establishes a USDA technical assistance and registration program to assist producers and forest owners seeking to take part in voluntary carbon markets.

“We are happy to see the Growing Climate Solutions Act get some air in the omnibus,” said ASA president and Illinois soybean farmer Daryl Cates, who explained, “The premise of Growing Climate Solutions is farmers can voluntarily adopt practices--like cover crops or no till—that pull carbon from the atmosphere and store, or ‘sequester,’ it in the soil. This, in turn, helps supply chain partners, private companies, and even governments shrink their carbon footprints. We appreciate Congress supporting USDA with authority to help interested farmers engage with private markets designed to reduce the rate of climate change caused by high carbon emissions.”

Connected to Growing Climate Solutions is the Sponsoring USDA Sustainability Targets in Agriculture to Incentivize Natural Solutions Act, or SUSTAINS Act. SUSTAINS encourages private sector partnerships for agriculture sustainability by allowing businesses to invest in conservation practices in geographic regions of their choice--and allows USDA to match those funds.

Other omnibus provisions with which soy is pleased:

  • Pesticides: Reauthorization of the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act, or PRIA, which imposes fees for maintenance and registration of active ingredients. PRIA would boost registration and maintenance fees 30% in 2023 and allow EPA to raise fees 5% in 2024 and 2026. It would require EPA to perform a workforce assessment of the Office of Pesticide Programs. The bill also extends the re-registration deadline for certain chemistries and incorporates a requirement that EPA consult with the Secretary of Agriculture when conducting essential pesticide registration reviews.
  • Army Corps Emergency Funding: $1.48 billion is included on top of annual appropriations funding for the Army Corps of Engineers to make necessary emergency repairs and navigation improvements needed after extreme weather events, including the ongoing low-water event on the Mississippi River.
  • Agricultural Disaster Aid: $3.7 billion is earmarked for disaster aid for losses of “revenue, quality or production losses of crops” in 2023. USDA would get an additional $27 million for the Emergency Forest Reserve Program and $925 million for the Emergency Watershed Protection Program.
  • Agricultural research: Ag research funding would increase by $175 million to $3.45 billion in 2023, including monies for Agricultural Research Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, and Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program.
  • Rural Development: USDA's ReConnect loan and grant program for rural broadband would get $348 million for fiscal 2023.

ASA continues to review the full document. More details can be found in the summary document.