Ranking Member Stabenow Opening Statement at Business Meeting on NBAF, Lands Legislation

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry, today released the following opening statement at a business meeting to consider legislation regarding the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) and a package of lands bills. 

Stabenow’s statement, as prepared for delivery, follows:

Thank you Mr. Chairman, for holding today’s business meeting to consider two important pieces of legislation.

All of us understand the importance of protecting our food and agricultural economy. After all, food security is national security.

The world-class National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Kansas will help protect our country against animal diseases and intentional threats to the food supply.

Mr. Chairman, the bill we introduced will ensure this cutting-edge research institution is a key part of our national bio-defense strategy to protect farmers and consumers alike.

This facility is a new responsibility for the USDA and will require additional funding. We also need to ensure that funding will not take dollars away from other critical research and animal disease programs at the Department. 

To address this, the manager’s amendment includes new language to encourage coordination and ensure that all federal agencies conducting research in the new facility will submit a joint budget request for funding.

We’ll also consider a package that will improve the management of public lands in Tennessee and Virginia, including designating 5,600 acres of national forest land in Virginia as federally-protected wilderness. 

The committee has passed the Virginia language twice before – first as part of the Federal Land Management Act of 2017 and also as part of the 2018 Senate Farm Bill.

I support both of these bills and I urge the members of this Committee to do the same.

Thank you.