A conservation coalition, representing a diverse group of farm and environmental policy organizations, sent a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner today expressing disapproval of the proposed farm bill extension.
The letter – signed by American Farmland Trust, Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, Ducks Unlimited, Environmental Defense Fund, Land Trust Alliance, National Association of Conservation Districts, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, National Wildlife Federation, Pheasants Forever Quail Forever, The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership – encouraged the speaker to instead “move forward on a full Farm Bill in the coming months – one that, among other things, does not damage the ability of the Conservation Title of the bill to continue its longstanding and successful partnership with America’s farmers and ranchers to protect our nation’s exceptional soil, water and wildlife resources.”
“The House’s extension bill makes deep and disproportionate cuts to the Conservation Title of the bill to offset emergency drought payments that have been added to the extension. In fact, 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.
“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,” stated the groups. “In fact, it is the Conservation Title Programs that conserve soil and water to make farms and ranches more resilient to the impacts of droughts.”
The groups also reiterated the fact that Conservation Title programs help to protect our natural resources in a uniquely successful way – by funding a variety of voluntary partnerships and cooperative conservation efforts between the USDA and private landowners.
“These conservation programs are essential to the sustainability of U.S. agriculture and forestry and to meeting the growing demand for food and fiber at home and abroad,” they said.