On July 30, 2012, NSAC joined 12 other national conservation groups in sending a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner opposing the House farm bill extension and arguing instead for a full five-year farm bill re-authorization this year.
“We are writing on behalf of our millions of members to convey our strong and unified disapproval of the way in which the House is addressing re-authorization of the Farm Bill and to urge that you redesign your strategy to embrace an approach that will conclude a comprehensive re-authorization this year,” the groups say.
House leadership has scheduled time on Wednesday to vote on a one year extension to the 2008 Farm Bill plus a livestock disaster aid package to address the nationwide drought. Unfortunately, the extension bill takes a backwards approach to helping drought-stricken farmers and ranchers. It cuts more than $760 million from farm bill conservation programs, which, as the letters states, “conserve soil and water to make farms and ranches more resilient to the impacts of droughts;” yet it spends another $5 billion on direct payments that both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees agreed to terminate. The letter points out that unlike direct payments, the Conservation Title had strong bipartisan support from both agriculture committees because of its proven ability to protect natural and economic resources.
“Of course we understand the need to respond to the drought and to the challenges and hardships it poses to farm families, but it makes little sense to pay for the emergency program almost entirely with cuts to the Conservation Title which represents a small proportion of the overall bill,” the letter states. “The Conservation Title is 30% of the farm program spending baseline, excluding nutrition programs, and 7% of the Farm Bill overall, but sustains 75% of funding cuts in this bill most of which are concentrated in the first two years making the cuts real and immediate.”
The organizations conclude their letter by urging the House leadership to reject the proposed extension and instead pass a full five year bill that includes a strong Conservation Title.