Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved over $1 billion in budget cuts to agricultural programs, including conservation programs. The budget cuts come in the middle of increasingly heated debates about the federal budget and fears of deficit spending. Sara Hopper, the agricultural policy director of the Environmental Defense Fund, summed up the sentiment from many agricultural groups, stating, “We realize that Congress faces tough budget choices, but making draconian cuts to voluntary conservation programs that help farmers and ranchers provide all Americans with cleaner air and water, more productive soils and habitat for wildlife is penny-wise and dollar-foolish.”
Last month, over fifty agricultural groups sent an open letter to the House, defending conservation programs and urging Congressmen to avoid cutting these vital agricultural programs. Citing the over $500 million already cut from conservation programs in 2010, these groups pointed out the environmental benefits offered by conservation programs.
The cuts passed by the House reduce funding for several popular conservation programs, including the Conservation Stewardship Program, which lost $210 million, and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which lost $350 million. In addition, the bill slashes funding to programs that protect and restore wildlife habitats and programs to protect farmland from suburban development.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer