House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bills Approved by Committees

2018-06-04

Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees considered bills in May to authorize spending on Agriculture programs for Fiscal Year 2019. The House bill was approved on a vote of 31-20, while the Senate committee voted to advance its bill unanimously. SNA was successful in having a number of its legislative priorities included in the bills.

SNA is excited to share that the Senate and House versions both provide $20,000,000 for school breakfast program commodities. Both bills also include $30,000,000 in funding for grants to local education agencies and schools that can be used for equipment purchases, improving the nutritional value of meals, improving food safety or creating or expanding a school breakfast program.

The House bill establishes December 31, 2018 as the deadline to make a determination under Paid Lunch Equity provisions for the 2019-2020 school year, providing schools with a good grasp of meal prices and helping in determining any potential future lunch price increases. The House Committee report also requested that the Food and Nutrition Service provide guidance for alternative tools for schools to assist in financial management documentation. In addition, the report encourages the Secretary of Agriculture to review current regulations on school meal patterns, including those dealing with serving dairy products and smart snacks, and to provide schools with flexibility to use leftover compliant foods in a manner consistent with food safety requirements.

The Senate Appropriations Committee included two recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture that SNA advocated for when it approved its appropriations bill. It encouraged USDA to return to five year inspection cycles for schools consistently complying with Federal standards, and to simplify the process for applying for a waiver to the Department's whole grain requirement. The bill also prohibits the Food and Drug Administration from issuing regulations for sodium reduction until a dietary reference intake report for sodium is completed.

At the time of publication, both bills still needed to be voted on by the House and Senate. If passed, they would need to be reconciled in a conference committee before being sent to the President.

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