50+ Groups Urge Congress to Reject $1 Billion in Cuts to USDA Conservation Programs

Ag, conservation groups call on lawmakers to "ensure that reasonable funding levels are continued"

05-31-2011 // PRNewswire

The following excerpt is from PRNewswire


A coalition of more than 50 agriculture and conservation groups representing millions of Americans today are urging lawmakers to reject nearly $1 billion in proposed cuts to farm bill conservation programs. The organizations are asking the House Appropriations Committee to "ensure that reasonable funding levels are continued" when the committee meets today at 5 p.m. to vote on these huge cuts in the FY2012 agriculture appropriations bill; $500 million already has been slashed from farm bill conservation programs in the FY2011 spending bill.

"These conservation programs are crucial to the health and viability of agriculture and rural America," said a letter sent to committee members from the agriculture and conservation groups, including National Wildlife Federation, Environmental Defense Fund and Coalition. "The demand for enrollment in these programs routinely exceeds the funds available, even without any cuts. Failure to support our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and natural resource base today will jeopardize our agricultural industry, drive up long term costs for environmental mitigation, and threaten our nation's food security."

The proposed FY2012 appropriations bill includes large cuts to two extremely popular working lands programs, the Conservation Stewardship Program ($210 million cut) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program ($350 million cut). These programs have improved soil, air, and water quality on farms and ranches across the country. There often are more applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program than funds available for the program.

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