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Agricultural News

NACD Disappointed in Cuts in House Omnibus Bill

Fri, 12 Dec 2014 15:04:05 CST

NACD Disappointed in Cuts in House Omnibus Bill

The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) is pleased that the U.S. House of Representatives has passed an Omnibus Bill that would avoid a government shutdown and increase funds for several vital conservation programs. However, NACD is concerned about increased cuts to already lean Farm Bill conservation programs.

The bill passed Thursday night by the U.S. House of Representatives would increase funding for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service's (NRCS) Conservation Operations account. Conservation Operations—which remains a high priority for NACD members—provides critical funding to ensure farmers, ranchers and forest landowners have the technical assistance they need to implement voluntary conservation practices for cleaner water and air and improved wildlife habitat. It would also increase funds for the Forest Service State and Private Forestry program as well as maintain funds for the Environmental Protection Agency's 319 Nonpoint Source Grants.

Additionally, the bill would remove the Clean Water Act's (CWA) Waters of the U.S. Interpretive Rule (IR) and reemphasize CWA agricultural exemptions.

Unfortunately, the bill also calls for additional cuts to mandatory Farm Bill conservation programs, including $650 million in cuts to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

"We're extremely concerned that Congress continues to cut from critical Farm Bill conservation programs," said NACD President Earl Garber. "The 2014 Farm Bill already produced billions of dollars in savings, yet Congress continues to make cuts to important programs like CSP and EQIP. At a time when farmers and ranchers are facing increased pressure to produce food and fiber for a growing population, it's extremely important that they have full access to the tools and resources they need to implement voluntary conservation practices on their land. Further cuts to vital conservation program funding will hinder the implementation of voluntary, locally-led conservation on the ground, putting our land and resources at risk for the future."

Despite these cuts, NACD is urging the Senate to pass the bill and avoid a government shutdown.



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