Group says the programs help drive private investment in public benefits
The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) urged Congress to reject a proposal in President Obama's Fiscal Year 2011 budget to cut more than half a billion dollars from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation programs below funding levels mandated in the 2008 Farm Bill.
"We recognize that the administration faces tough choices to cut the deficit, but these conservation programs help drive private investment in public benefits--including cleaner water, cleaner air and improved habitat for wildlife--so they are a great deal for taxpayers," said Sara Hopper, director of agricultural policy for EDF and a former staff member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. "USDA conservation programs assist farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners who offer to spend their own time and money to improve the management of their land to benefit the environment."
These conservation programs reward producers for improving the management of farms, ranches and private forest land to benefit water resources, air quality and wildlife; restoring and protecting wetlands; preserving and restoring grasslands; and maintaining farmland, ranchland and private forestland in the face of development pressures. The 2008 Farm Bill mandated a $4 billion increase in funding over five years for these programs after a long legislative debate.
"Congress passed the 2008 Farm Bill with broad bipartisan support, and the investment it made in conservation was one reason for that broad support," Hopper said. "We are disappointed that the administration has proposed to reduce that investment so soon after the farm bill was enacted into law."