House Agriculture Leaders To Cut Conservation, Protect Direct Payments
Washington, D.C. - Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, has issued the following statement:
EWG strongly opposes a drought disaster package proposed by House agriculture committee leaders that would be paid for with damaging and unnecessary cuts to conservation programs. Livestock and fruit and vegetable farmers who don’t have access to federal crop insurance certainly need assistance during this historic drought. But the proposal would cut the very conservation programs that help farmers mitigate drought conditions. This is a shortsighted and counterproductive move. It is time for Congress to stop using conservation programs as an ATM for other priorities. At a moment when tens of millions of acres are being converted into cropland to meet a misguided corn ethanol mandate, cuts to the programs meant to blunt agriculture’s impact on the landscape result in an environmental double-whammy, undermining efforts to protect source water and protect wildlife. The worst aspect of the House proposal is that it ignores the most logical source for money to pay for necessary disaster relief: the discredited and wasteful direct payment program that both the Senate and House agriculture committees have voted to discontinue. Farmers have already said they do not need this annual entitlement payment, and Congress has voiced its agreement. What’s more, the proposal cuts even more from conservation programs than is necessary to pay for drought relief. We urge the House to reject a drought relief package that is financed at the expense of our natural resources. Congress must craft a more thoughtful response to what is surely a crisis for many farmers in rural America.
* Next week, EWG and Defenders of Wildlife will release a major analysis of land conversion in the farm belt and its devastating impact on land and wildlife habitat.