February 5, 2010
In a February 5 letter to the House and Senate Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittees, farm, conservation and environmental groups urged Congress to reject President Obama’s proposed $1 billion-plus cut to mandatory farm conservation program funding. The letter, coordinated by NSAC, was signed by 37 organizations including Audubon, Clean Water Network, Environmental Defense Fund, Izaak Walton League of America, National Farmers Union, National Association of Conservation Districts, and National Wildlife Federation.
The funding placed on the chopping block by the President was agreed to and signed into law as part of the 2008 Farm Bill. In his 2011 budget, submitted to Congress on February 1, Obama proposes to use a backdoor mechanism to reverse the farm bill decision. The proposed budget chicanery would limit the ability of USDA to pay their conservation service employees if they implement a program beyond a reduced size and scope dictated in the White House proposal.
The Obama proposal includes one-year cuts to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, and Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program, and one year and multi-year cuts to the Conservation Stewardship Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, and Grasslands Reserve Program. The one year cuts exceed $500 million and the long-term cuts exceed $1 billion.
“It is sadly ironic for the White House to scale back its commitment to the sustainability of agriculture in the very same week it trumpets a more aggressive promotion of corn-based ethanol,” commented NSAC Policy Director Ferd Hoefner. “If anything, now is precisely the time to redouble efforts to protect the rural environment and help farmers steward their resources. Congress would choose well to maintain its conservation commitments, reject the misguided Obama cuts, and begin to explore avenues to more vigorously advance sustainability in the next farm bill.”
Categories: Conservation, Energy & Environment