U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., the first Delaware senator in more than four decades to serve on the critical Appropriations Committee, secured funding for vital agriculture, rural development and environmental priorities, including support for the poultry industry, conservation and rural housing programs in the remaining appropriations bills for fiscal year 2019, which passed the Senate and House Feb. 14 with strong bipartisan support. President Trump signed the legislation into law Feb. 15.
“Delaware plays a critical role in feeding America’s families, and finding ways to support our hardworking farmers and poultry growers is one of my top priorities,” said Coons. “I’m pleased that this final appropriations bill includes funding for critical programs that will protect Delaware’s poultry growers from disease and catastrophic loss, and help farmers continue their conservation efforts. This bill also provides increased support for rural housing to make sure low-income families can secure an affordable home. All of these investments mean jobs, economic opportunity, and a cleaner environment for Delaware and the nation. I’m thrilled Congress has worked in a bipartisan way to support these and many related programs.”
For the poultry industry, Coons fought for $63 million for avian health programs, which support partnerships with state departments of agriculture, universities and the poultry industry to monitor poultry flocks, and prevent and control the spread of diseases, including avian influenza.
Coons fought for strong funding for several U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs, including the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. These programs offer crucial tools that help farmers in Delaware and around the U.S. protect water quality, conserve soil, enhance wildlife habitat and protect land. This supports conservation of the nation’s natural resources, sustains hunting and fishing traditions, and helps keep America’s working lands in the hands of farm families for generations to come.
Coons fought for $415 million for the Agricultural and Food Research Initiative, which provides critical funding for research on food, agriculture, natural resources, clean energy production, rural development and nutrition.
Coons fought for increased funding for rural housing support, including $1.3 billion for the Rental Assistance Program, a USDA program under which payments are made to the owners of rental housing to cover the difference between the tenant's payment and the approved rental rate established for the unit. Coons also supported $30 million for the Mutual and Self-Help Housing Grants Program, another USDA program that provides grants to nonprofit organizations, like Habitat for Humanity, that work with low-income families in rural areas to buy, build, and renovate their own affordable homes.
To support coastal protection and navigation, Coons fought to protect Delaware’s greatest natural resource, coastal and ocean resources, through strong funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This includes $75.5 million for Coastal Zone Management Grants, $7.5 million for the Marine Debris Program, and $27million for the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. Coons also fought for $68 million for NOAA’s Sea Grant College Program, of which University of Delaware’s Lewes campus is a member. Finally, Coons fought for $30 million for the National Coastal Resilience Fund. The City of Wilmington was recently awarded $3 million from this fund to restore a degraded wetland, improve soil and water quality, and prevent flooding in the Southbridge neighborhood.
To support the environment, Coons fought to secure strong federal funding for important programs at the Department of the Interior that help conserve and protect the nation’s rivers, wetlands, and other valuable natural resources. This includes $6 million for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program, $42 million for the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund and $435 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Coons also fought for strong funding for several Environmental Protection Agency programs that provide states with the tools they need to protect and restore clean water, land and air at the local level, including the Chesapeake Bay Program and the National Estuary Program. These programs provide grants to protect water from nonpoint source water pollution, ensure clean and safe beaches, and support clean water and drinking water infrastructure. As in past years, Delawareans will directly benefit from the many local programs these grants help support.