Sen. Chris Coons secured funding for agriculture and environmental priorities in the federal spending bill for fiscal 2020, which passed Congress on Dec. 19.
“Delaware’s natural resources help drive our economy and make our state a great place to live and work,” said Coons. “I’m pleased that we secured funding for conservation and recreation programs that will have a direct impact on our region. Delaware also plays a critical role in feeding America’s families, and I’m proud that we provided strong funding to support Delaware farmers and our poultry industry. This funding will help create a cleaner environment and a stronger local economy, and I’m glad my colleagues came to a bipartisan agreement on this bill so we can support Delawareans and Americans across the country.”
The federal spending bill includes funding for agriculture and environmental priorities that will directly benefit Delaware:
— The bill increases funding for the Agricultural and Food Research Initiative to $425 million, supporting research at Delaware universities on agriculture, natural resources, clean energy production, rural development and nutrition.
— The bill provides $62.8 million for Avian Health programs, which fund critical monitoring and research to prevent and control the spread of poultry diseases in the commercial poultry industry.
— Full funding is provided for key Department of Agriculture programs that help Delaware farmers protect water quality, preserve land and improve soil health.
— The bill increases funding to $87 million for the National Sea Grant College Program. The University of Delaware’s Lewes campus is a member of this program.
— The bill provides an increase to $9.7 million for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program, which funds conservation projects focusing on clean water, habitat, recreation and flow management in the Delaware River watershed, benefitting Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.
— The bill increases funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program to $85 million, helping Delaware and other bay states protect and restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. $3 million is also provided for the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network, which provides recreational opportunities throughout the region.
— The bill increases funding for the National Estuary Program to $29.8 million. This includes $662,500 for each of Delaware’s two national estuaries, the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary and the Center for the Inland Bays.
— The bill increases funding for the National Park Service’s Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers program to $3.58 million. Coons led the bill that added Delaware’s White Clay Creek to the program.
— The bill increases funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund to $46 million and for the Land and Water Conservation Fund to $495 million. Both help protect open space, wetlands and wildlife habitat in Delaware and throughout the country.