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US agriculture, wildlife and conservation groups advocate for conservation funding support

03 April 2020

On 2 April, 76 farm, conservation and wildlife groups delivered a letter to Congress requesting full funding for conservation programmes and technical assistance for 2021.

In the letter, the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD), National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), National Farmers Union (NFU), National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and other signatories called upon House and Senate appropriators to maintain discretionary United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation funding and reject any cuts to farm bill conservation programmes through the FY21 appropriations process.

Farm bill conservation programmes, including the Conservation Reserve Programme (CRP), Conservation Stewardship Programme (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Programme (EQIP), Regional Conservation Partnership Programme (RCPP) and Agricultural Conservation Easement Programme (ACEP), play a vital role in helping farmers, ranchers and landowners keep their lands sustainable and profitable for generations to come. The letter asks lawmakers to maintain the funding for these programmes mandated by the 2018 Farm Bill and urges appropriators to fund the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)’s Conservation Operations (CO) account at $840 million, a $10 million increase from FY20. This money facilitates NRCS operations outside of the mandatory farm bill programmes.

“Voluntary, incentive-based, locally-led conservation delivery is crucial to responsible management and conservation of the nation’s natural resources,” NACD President Tim Palmer said. “These conservation programmes help put more boots on the ground in local communities, where they’re best equipped to make knowledgeable decisions in cooperation with landowners for their individual landscapes.”

"Farmers and ranchers work hard every day to conserve their land," said Eric Deeble, NSAC Policy Director. "Ensuring that they have the resources and support they need to keep their soil healthy, along with their livelihoods, should always be a priority for Congress."

"As climate change presents significant financial and environmental challenges for family farmers and ranchers, farm bill conservation programmes provide ever-critical support for on-farm mitigation and adaption efforts,” NFU President Rob Larew said. “For these essential programmes to operate at full capacity, they must have adequate resources and staff behind them. We urge appropriators to ensure farmers have access to services and assistance they need by providing ample funding for the coming fiscal year."

“America’s farmers and agricultural producers have a leading role to play in restoring habitat and strengthening conservation outcomes,” NWF Director of Agriculture Policy Aviva Glaser said. “Now is the time for policymakers to redouble our commitments to agricultural conservation programmes to help farmers reeling from the recent trade war and the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.”

NACD, NSAC, NFU and NWF stand united with the more than 70 co-signed organisations in urging appropriators to protect funding for critical conservation programmes and technical assistance in FY 2021.


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