July 16, 2015
Washington, DC, July 16, 2015 – The following is a statement issued by NSAC regarding the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2016 agriculture appropriations bill:
“We are thrilled the Senate bill allows the Conservation Stewardship Program to proceed at the level dictated by the 2014 Farm Bill. Rejecting the ill-considered cut in the President’s budget and the House bill, the Senate Committee is to be congratulated for respecting the farm bill and recognizing the overwhelming farmer and rancher demand to participate in this performance-based working lands conservation program. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, whose funding levels are reduced from the 2014 Farm Bill level by 18 percent in both the House and Senate bills, despite the increased demand for program funding.
We also greatly appreciate the fact that the Senate bill does not contain several riders that appear in the House bill, including those allowing a few of the biggest cotton farms to evade the farm bill’s subsidy limits and delaying implementation of the farm bill’s new conservation compliance for an additional year. We applaud the Senate appropriators for once again not including the rider directing USDA to stop rulemaking to implement livestock and poultry fair markets and contracts laws. That rider has been in the House bill and the final appropriations act for several years, but thankfully it is now out of the House bill as well.
With respect to discretionary funding, we are disturbed with level funding for critical research and rural development priorities, including the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, Agricultural and Food Research Initiative, Food Safety Outreach Program (also referred to as farmer food safety training), and Value-Added Producer Grants program. As with many other programs in the bill, level funding for successful and in-demand programs is a sign of the need to reach an accommodation on overall budget caps and sequestration in order to make this year’s appropriations bills a reality and avoid a continuing resolution locking last year’s bill in place for another year.”
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities.