Groups ask for Congress to "hold the line" on conservation cuts

Jun 15, 2012
by WLJ

On June 11, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and nearly 30 NSAC member groups joined over 520 organizations in sending a letter to the Majority and Minority leaders of both Houses of Congress asking them to protect the Conservation Title from more cuts.

In the Senate version of the 2012 Farm Bill, the Conservation Title sustained heavy cuts to programs essential for conserving resources on working lands and for obtaining conservation easements. The signers, spearheaded by 11 agricultural, forestry, and conservation organizations, requested that lawmakers “hold the line” and pursue no further cuts to the Conservation Title through the remainder of the farm bill process.

The farm bill Conservation Title programs includes successful programs such as the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), the Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP), and the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (FRPP).

These programs protect soil, water, wildlife and other natural resources while working with farmers to increase the productivity and sustainability of American agriculture.

The letter points out that farm bill conservation programs have suffered significant cuts through the annual appropriations process since the 2008 Farm Bill was enacted, and the pending Senate bill cuts the program by another $6 billion plus. Additional cuts over and above those in the Senate’s farm bill would jeopardize the continued success of very effective conservation programs.

NSAC Policy Director Ferd Hoefner notes that the combined cuts to conservation equal nearly 15 percent of the farm bill conservation funding, whereas the proposed cuts to commodity and crop insurance funding in the pending Senate farm bill are less than 10 percent. NSAC believes the cuts are already significantly out of balance and that any further cuts to the title as a whole or to individual programs would be grounds for opposition to the bill as a whole. — WLJ