Washington, D.C., June 11, 2014 --Concerned that proposed cuts to federal agriculture conservation programs will have dire consequences for agriculture, the environment, and food security, more than 30 groups today urged Congress to honor the commitments made in the 2014 Farm Bill and restore hundreds of millions of dollars in additional cuts to critical conservation programs.
In a letter sent today to House and Senate Appropriators, American Farmland Trust, National Association of Conservation Districts, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and National Wildlife Federation, and 31 other conservation groups cited the many, diverse benefits of the federal agriculture conservation programs.
“With increased pressures on working lands to produce food, fuel, and fiber for our nation and the world, Farm Bill conservation programs are needed now more than ever. They deliver demonstrated environmental benefits, including clean air and water and abundant wildlife habitat. They protect soil and farmland to provide lasting food security. And they bring important money and jobs to rural areas.
Failure to support our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and natural resource base today will jeopardize our agricultural industry tomorrow; driving up long term costs for environmental mitigation, and threatening our nation’s food security.”
In addition to the conservation cuts contained in the Farm Bill and the $265 million that will be cut through sequestration in FY 2015 alone, the House Agriculture Appropriations bill cuts mandatory funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) by $209 million, Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) by $60 million, and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) by $109 million, which will result in a loss of more than 1 million acres from the program.
The Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill reduces funding for EQIP to $1.35 billion, $250 million less than the funding level provided by the 2014 Farm Bill.
Decisions made by Congress during the three-year farm bill debate alone will result in a decline of millions of acres in new program enrollments. As currently drafted, the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations bills further threaten these vital programs.
The American Farmland Trust is the nation's leading conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land.
AFT will host the Farmland, Food and Livable Communities national conference in Lexington, Kentucky on October 20-22. Visit www.farmland.org/nationalconference for more information.
For more information on the policies and programs of the American Farmland Trust, visit www.farmland.org, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmericanFarmland or follow us on Twitter www.twitter.com/farmland
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