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For Senator Conrad, Millionaire Subsidy Recipients Trump the Environment

For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, March 25, 2009

WASHINGTON, March 25 – Senate Budget committee chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) announced yesterday he would reject President Obama’s plan to cut billions in crop subsidy payments that flow mostly to large profitable farm operations and wealthy landowners.

Instead, according to a March 24 report by Charles Abbott of Reuters news service, Conrad said he would slash several other programs, among them, two conservation programs that are critical to winning the fight against global warming.

The conservation programs on Conrad’s chopping block help farmers reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions and also engage in practices that take carbon out of the air and store it in the soil. Moreover, these programs help farmers protect their land and the environment from the more frequent floods, droughts, and severe weather blamed on global warming.

“Farmers must be on the front lines in the fight against global warming,” said Craig Cox, Environmental Working Group Midwest Vice-President. “There is a lot at stake in this fight, not only for U.S. agriculture but also for the rest of us who benefit from smart agriculture practices.”

Congress had already cut the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) by 20 percent this year, and 3 million more acres have recently been removed from the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

“Senator Conrad is proposing to take us in exactly the wrong direction by refusing to reform the abuses that funnel billions in taxpayer dollars to large profitable farm operations and wealthy landowners while cutting programs that fight global warming,” said Cox.

Conservation programs are chronically under-funded and deserve more federal support, not less.

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Craig Cox, EWG Midwest Vice President, manages EWG's office in Ames, IA. Prior to EWG, Mr. Cox served as Executive Director of the Soil and Water Conservation Society and was Acting USDA Deputy Under-Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, and Special Assistant to the Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. The group’s farm subsidy database can be found at www.mulchblog.com

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