Tester Secures Montana Priorities in Two Senate Appropriations Bills

Senator delivers funding for rural water systems, Tribal water settlements, and critical support for Montana producers among other priorities

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today secured millions in funding to support producers and upgrade Montana water systems, among other Montana priorities, at a Senate Appropriations Committee markup hearing on a series of bills to fund the government for the next fiscal year.

Tester delivered funding for rural water projects and Tribal water settlements, as well as badly-needed support for Montana farmers and ranchers currently facing a historic drought.

“Montana is working hard to build back our economy following the pandemic, and these critical funding bills will help us do just that,” Tester said. “This legislation will give more certainty to water users and provide critical support for Montana farmers and ranchers who have been hit hard by this historic drought. I am pleased that these government funding bills include many priorities for Montana that I fought to secure, and I’ll continue working to make sure our state has the resources it needs to thrive.”

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tester is responsible for writing the 12 bills that fund the federal government each year. Among the Montana priorities Tester successfully included in today’s packages are:

Fiscal Year 2022 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill

  • Rural Water Projects: Tester secured $13.5 million for Rocky Boy’s/North Central Rural Water Project, and $17.2 million for Fort Peck/Dry Prairie Rural Water Project.
  • St. Mary’s Water Project: The Committee Tester also included report language directing the Bureau of Reclamation (BoR) to complete its ability to pay study and directing BoR to continue working with local stakeholders to find ways to rehabilitate the project without unduly burdening them.
  • $8 million to build additional soil moisture and snowpack monitoring capacity on the Upper Missouri River Basin to better understand drought conditions, water availability, and climatic changes in the region – a $3 million increase from Fiscal Year 2021.
  • $15 million for Corps of Engineers watercraft inspection stations to protect Columbia River, Upper Missouri River, and Upper Colorado River Basin states from aquatic invasive species.
  • Indian Water Rights Settlements: $12.7 million for the Crow Tribe Water Rights Settlement, and $40 million for the Blackfeet Tribal Water Compact.

Fiscal Year 2022 Agriculture Appropriations Bill

  • $2 million for enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act. This funding will be used to beef up staffing, increase antitrust enforcement, and support rulemaking to create fairer markets for Montana’s livestock producers.
  • Drought and Wildfire Assistance: Tester fought to secure $6.28 billion to extend the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) program for losses in 2020 and 2021, along with an additional $750 million set aside for losses livestock producers suffered due to drought and wildfires this year.
  • $3 million for the Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) to provides technical assistance to farmers, extension agents, market gardeners, and agricultural researchers.
  • Tester secured a $40 million increase for the Rental Assistance Program, bringing overall program funding to $1.45 billion.
  • $2 million for the Barley Pest Initiative – a $1 million increase from Fiscal Year 2021.
  • $15 million for the Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative.
  • $20 million for the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative.
  • $35 million for School Meal Equipment Grants.