March 7, 2011
The Clean Water Network held its biennial Clean Water Week gathering in Washington, D.C. last week, which brought together representatives of organizations from around the U.S. The Conference featured updates on and discussions on a wide array of policies that impact the nation’s water quality.
Agricultural issues had a prominent place on the agenda. On Tuesday, NSAC’s Policy Director Ferd Hoefner provided an update on the Farm Bill, with special attention to the interplay among current congressional action on FY2011 appropriations, the President’s FY2012 Budget Request for USDA, and the next Farm Bill.
In addition, a new Mississippi River Basin Work Group was launched at the meeting which will take a comprehensive look at water quality issues in the Basin’s watersheds, including agriculture policy and water quality. The co-chairs for the new Work Group include Brad Redlin with the Izaak Walton League of America and Susan Heathcote with the Iowa Environmental Council. Both groups are also NSAC members. NSAC Senior Policy Associate Martha Noble also serves as co-chair for the new Work Group. USDA agricultural programs and policy were included on the list of issues that will be covered by this new Work Group.
On Wednesday, the Network hosted a Capitol Hill Briefing on water quality in the Mississippi River Basin. Martha Noble teamed up with Nathan Anderson, a young farmer and member of the Practical Farmers of Iowa for a presentation that featured USDA’s conservation programs. The presentation focused on the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). Nathan emphasized how these programs have helped him establish cover crops, riparian buffers and other conservation measures to decrease the run off of soil and nutrients from his farm.
All three of these conservation programs are targeted for major cuts in the Continuing Resolution for FY2011 funding, HR 1, approved by the House of Representatives last week. The Senate counter-offer released on Friday includes smaller cuts to EQIP and WRP.
You can help minimize the cuts to these programs and to other programs that help foster sustainable agriculture by contacting your Senators and Representative. An NSAC Action Alert on HR 1 is posted here.