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Congress Poised To Cut Conservation Funds That Aided Farm Bill’s Passage

For Immediate Release: 
Tuesday, September 9, 2008

WASHINGTON – September 9, 2008. Behind the thin green gloss Congressional leaders spread across the subsidy-laden 2008 farm bill, the Democratic Congress is now hacking away at pledges to expand conservation and other environmental programs. Data analyzed by the Environmental Working Group show that Congress is trying to roll back funding increases in critical conservation and environmental programs, funding pledged in the farm law passed just weeks ago.

Today, Craig Cox, EWG Midwest Vice-President, released the report: Congress Poised to Cut Conservation Funds that Aided Farm Bill’s Passage, from EWG’s new Midwest office in Ames, IA.

When the farm bill became law on June 18, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi boasted that it would represent “historic new investments” in programs to protect water quality and wildlife. Those investments helped mute the opposition of many in Congress and some interest groups, who objected to the bill’s continuation of hefty subsidies to large, wealthy farm operators now earning record incomes in the ongoing commodity boom.

But within weeks of the farm bill’s passage, the Senate appropriations committee sent to the Senate floor a spending bill (S.3289) that would slash conservation measures by $331 million in fiscal year 2009.

Commodity subsidies that provide billions to the richest farmers each year remained untouched.

For every $10,000 in crop subsidies Congress sends to the most heavily polluting counties in the Corn Belt, just one dollar is spent on conservation. In the 124 counties that cause 40% of spring nitrate fertilizer pollution, the ratio between subsidies and conservation spending is 500 to one.

“With cuts like this year after year, it’s no wonder that agriculture is the number one source of water pollution in the nation. Democrats in Congress are using bait and switch tactics with conservation funding. This practice mirrors a longstanding Republican tradition of broken promises where pledges to increase money for environmental programs are followed by systematic and dramatic cuts that have left conservation programs billions short over the past decade,” said Craig Cox, EWG Midwest Vice-President.

Go to for the full report.


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EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.

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