Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Federal Farm Bill Conservation Programs & Great Lakes Restoration

Mar 20: The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes (HOW) Coalition released a report urging Federal public officials to strengthen and support successful farm conservation programs that are vital to restoring the health of the Great Lakes. Jeff Skelding, campaign director for the HOW Coalition said, "Farm conservation programs are essential for Great Lakes restoration. Farm conservation programs are producing results, but there is more work to do. Cutting support for these successful programs now will cause problems to get worse and more costly to solve."

    The report, The Case for Federal Farm Bill Conservation Programs in the Great Lakes Region, documents how conservation measures on farms across the region are protecting natural resources, helping farmers improve productivity and providing jobs.
According to a release, the report comes as U.S. legislators embark on revising the Federal Farm Bill, the primary agriculture and food policy tool of the Federal government that includes one of the largest sources of conservation funding in the Federal budget: The Great Lakes states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin receive more than $500 million in conservation funding annually through the Farm Bill.

    The degree to which the new Farm Bill helps Great Lakes restoration efforts may hinge on the actions of Federal public officials from the Great Lakes region -- particularly in the U.S. Senate, which is leading the effort to update the Farm Bill. The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry is chaired by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and includes members Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Richard Lugar (R-IN).

    HOW points out that in the last two Federal budgets the U.S. Congress has cut Farm Bill conservation programs by more than $1 billion. President Obama's fiscal year 2013 budget recommends further reductions of more than $400 million. The HOW Coalition is urging lawmakers to restore conservation funding in the Farm Bill. The new report offers several recommendations to get more "bang for the buck" from Federal Farm Bill programs, including: Invest more, not less, on farm conservation programs;
Support a new regional restoration program; Connect crop insurance subsidies to conservation compliance; Eliminate provisions that incentivize habitat destruction; and, Target programs on the worst problems.

    Access a lengthy release from the HOW Coalition with more details and links to related information (click here). Access the complete 24-page report (click here). [#GLakes]
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