Disaster Assistance Bill’s Cuts to Conservation Are Short-Sighted

Disproportionate cuts to conservation amount to robbing Peter to pay Paul

08-01-2012 // Aileo Weinmann

The House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on a bill to provide disaster relief to ranchers who have been hit hard by the drought. Unfortunately, the bill is paid for entirely by cuts to conservation programs.

Julie Sibbing, director of agriculture and forestry at the National Wildlife Federation, said today:

“Although it is critically important that those ranchers who have been affected by the devastating drought get the disaster assistance that they need, this bill offsets the aid through steep, disproportionate cuts to the conservation title. We need Congress to act now to provide aid to ranchers in need, but this should not be a choice between robbing Peter and paying Paul.

“Cutting conservation programs to pay for disaster relief would be short-sighted and irresponsible; conservation programs help to build soil health and resilience that buffer extreme weather events such as droughts. As we’ve seen in recent weeks, some of the only forage available in drought-prone areas has been through emergency haying and grazing on Conservation Reserve Program land. By cutting conservation programs now, we are only ensuring high future costs.”

The National Wildlife Federation urges Congress to reauthorize a full 5-year Farm Bill that gives farmers and ranchers the assurances they need as they plan for coming year.

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