Murkowski Works to Support Critical Nutrition Programs, Alaska’s Fisheries, and Rural Development

Genetically Engineered Salmon Import Ban Intact

The Senate Appropriations Committee this week approved the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations bill, sending it to the full U.S. Senate. The funding bill contains a number of priorities U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) secured for Alaska that will support Alaska’s vital fishing industry and farmers, address hunger, and improve water and wastewater systems in rural Alaska. These provisions include an import ban for genetically engineered (GE) salmon and support for critical food assistance programs.

“The importance of health and safety cannot be understated. I’m proud this funding bill prioritizes the importance of supporting local economics, public health, and local agriculture. Through this bill, grants will allow institutions to continue agricultural innovations to feed and support Alaskans and help farmers grow more crops. These investments not only help increase Alaskans’ food security by initiatives to ensure families, including students, don’t go hungry, but we also prioritize nutrition. We also continue to protect wild salmon and consumers, by ensuring that GE salmon or “Frankenfish” cannot be sold until the FDA publishes final labeling guidelines.” said Senator Murkowski. “For years we’ve worked to put an end to the honeybucket in Alaska. I am pleased this bill makes crucial progress in meeting rural Alaskans basic water and sanitation needs to improve quality of life in remote areas throughout the state.”

Murkowski secured language addressing:

  • GE Salmon: Continues the current import ban of GE Salmon until final labeling guidelines have been set by the FDA as well as requires the Agency to review the “New Animal Drug” process currently used to approve GE salmon, and whether it is an appropriate evaluation process for genetically engineered animals for human consumption when it was created to approve drugs intended for use in animals. Since the FDA’s decision to approve GE salmon for human consumption, Senator Murkowski has continued her fight for the health of both consumers and Alaska’s fisheries.
  • Seafood Advice: Directs the FDA to reissue its seafood advice and to make necessary technical corrections to ensure that pregnant and nursing women receive consistent and understandable nutrition advice, based on the most recent and complete nutrition science, on what seafood is safe and healthy to consume.
  • WIC Fish Food Packages: Encourages USDA to prioritize the health and cultural benefits of fish allow by allowing more fish in WIC food packages. 
  • Summer Food Service Program: Supports innovative ways to ensure students in rural areas who rely on school meals do not go hungry during the summer and school holidays.
  • Food Security in Frontier Communities: Encourages the Food and Nutrition Service to finalize and implement plans to focus on locally-designed initiatives to grow more food locally and increase food security in low-income regions.
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations: Directs USDA to report on its plans to include a greater variety of traditional foods such as wild salmon, caribou, and reindeer in all FDPIR food baskets and its plans to identify and purchase additional traditional foods, including wild salmon, caribou, and reindeer, from Alaska Native producers.
  • Floriculture: New this year, it restores funding to allow the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to produce the Floriculture Crops Report, and directs the agency to include data from Alaska. This was a high priority for Alaska’s peony farmers across the state.

In addition, the bill maintains or increases funding for other programs Murkowski advocated for that have a specific, positive impact for Alaskans, such as:

Agricultural Research, Education, and Economics:

  • Hatch Act agricultural research: $243.701 billion
  • Smith-Lever cooperative extension: $300 million
  • Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions: $3.194 million
  • Payments to Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities: $3.439 million
  • Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment: $8 million

Farm Service Agency:

  • Reimbursement Transportation Cost Program: $1.982 million

Food and Nutritional Services:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): $73.219 billion mandatory full funding to fully meet the needs of food-insecure working poor, seniors, military families and others
  • Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infant, and Children (WIC): $6.15 billion to fully meet the needs of low-income women and children
  • The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) Commodities: $294 million
  • Child Nutrition Programs:
    • National School Lunch Program: $11.713 billion
    • School Breakfast Program: $5.081 billion
    • Child and Adult Care Food Program: $3.933 billion
    • Summer Food Service Program: $519.461 million
    • School Nutrition Equipment Grant: $30 million
    • Food Distribution on Indian Reservations: $151 million

Rural Development Housing and Water:

  • Water Systems for Rural and Native Villages in Alaska: ~ $30 million, depending on demand
  • High Energy Cost Grant Program: $10 million
  • Rural Utilities Service Rural Water and Waste Disposal: $558.183 million
  • Rural Housing Service Section 523 Technical Assistance Grants: $30 million

Rural Housing Assistance Grants: $40 million

Related Issues: Alaska's Fisheries