April 26, 2010
More than 100 national, regional, state and local groups have signed on to a letter urging President Obama to pay for proposed increases in child nutrition and to settle long standing claims stemming from systemic discrimination in USDA programs without cutting critical conservation programs.
The letter circulated by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the Rural Coalition, the Family Farm Coalition and other groups was delivered to the President today, April 26th.
The letter applauds the Obama Administration’s budget commitment to providing long overdue resolution to African- American producers under the Pigford late claims settlement.
The letter also lauds the Senate Agriculture Committee passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that substantially increases support for child nutrition programs including a $40 million commitment for the Farm to School Program. If funded, Farm to School can put more local, fresh and healthy food on kid’s school lunch trays. NSAC continues to work with Senate leaders to increase Farm to School grant funding to $50 million. See our latest Farm to School action alert for more information.
Unfortunately, the Senate Agriculture Committee has voted to pay for part of its overall $4.5 billion funding increase for school meal programs by cutting $2.8 billion from a critical conservation program – the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). EQIP supports environmental stewardship on farms, including beginning and minority farmers and organic farming and organic transition.
The letter warns that these cuts to conservation will seriously impact the 2012 farm bill conservation baseline affecting conservation funding for years to come. These cuts are counterproductive. Healthy kids and healthy food require healthy soil and clean water. The letter urges that these spending priorities be paid for by closing tax loopholes or if necessary from a more diverse mix of revenue enhancements and smaller cuts to a wider range of agricultural programs.
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