Sen. Chris Coons applauded passage of the 2018 Farm Bill by the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry by a bipartisan vote of 20-1.

The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

“Defending Delaware’s working families, farmers and our environment are top priorities for me,” said Coons. “I am pleased that the leadership of the Senate Agriculture Committee worked together to craft a bipartisan package that will sustain the farm safety net, support agriculture research and education at Delaware universities, invest in our rural communities and preserve nutrition programs like SNAP, which helps feed more than 150,000 Delawareans a month. The Farm Bill has a long history of bipartisan support, and I am glad we are continuing that tradition.”

The bill includes a provision championed by Coons that will add international collaboration to the purposes of agricultural research supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This will allow researchers in the U.S. to collaborate more easily with their international counterparts to study emerging animal and plant diseases, improve crop varieties and animal breeds and develop safe, efficient and nutritious food systems.

Other highlights for Delaware include:

— Strong support for rural infrastructure, including increased funding for rural water and wastewater grants, the Circuit Rider Program and emergency water assistance grants. These programs help ensure that rural communities in Delaware have clean, safe and affordable drinking water and sewer service.

— Continued support for agricultural conservation programs such as the Conservation Stewardship Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program and 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.

— Improvements to the Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act (S. 2039) championed by Coons and senators from the Chesapeake Bay area. These changes double funding for the RCPP program and create more opportunities for farmers on Delmarva and throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed to benefit from the program, continuing a strong foundation for restoring the health of the watershed.

— Support for agricultural research, education, and extension programs at land-grant universities like the University of Delaware and Delaware State University. This includes a provision supported by Coons as part of the Carryover Equity Act of 2018 (S. 2384), which would benefit Delaware State University by fixing a provision that prohibits 1890 Land-Grant Institutions from carrying over more than 20 percent of their equity from one fiscal year to the next. This measure allows Delaware State University and 18 other 1890 institutions the same financial flexibility afforded to other land-grant universities throughout the nation.

— Doubles funding for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network. NAHLN is a partnership of federal, state and university-associated laboratories that helps track, diagnose and stop large-scale animal disease outbreaks like avian influenza. The University of Delaware’s Lasher Laboratory in Georgetown is a member of NAHLN, with world-renowned AI experts. Increased funding for NAHLN will help poultry farmers on Delmarva better protect their flocks from outbreaks.