National Association of Conservation Districts Says Obama Budget Has Positive Movement in Conservation SpendingWed, 10 Feb 2016 05:09:07 CST
The National Association of Conservation Districts have offered praise for a budget that does not propose to cut conservation spending in the coming fiscal year, in contrast to the last several budget proposals from President Obama that called for Conservation Spending reductions. In particular, the Administration did not propose cuts to the EQIP program- and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack talked about the importance of EQIP in helping achieve the Administration's goals in dealing with Climate Change in his Media Briefing on the USDA Budget on Tuesday- you can hear his comments on EQIP by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.
According to the statement from the NACD, "the President’s budget includes positive movement by the administration toward more conservation-minded practices and acknowledges the success of voluntary incentive-based conservation practices coupled with local delivery and technical assistance."
“The President’s proposed budget signals strong awareness in the administration that conservation practices are the key to our future as a nation and as a sustainable provider for the world’s growing population,” said NACD President Lee McDaniel.
“It puts more focus on programs and initiatives that will help us provide for a growing world population while building soil health, improving water quality and conserving wildlife habitat. We look forward to working with Congress to ensure conservation remains a priority in fiscal year 2017 appropriations.”
Included in the budget is $860.374 million for Conservation Operations, an increase of $29 million over last year’s request and $11 million more than was enacted. “This important increase in technical assistance through Conservation Operations will provide landowners with the knowledge and conservation tools they need to conserve, maintain, and improve our natural resources,” McDaniel said.
The President’s budget also emphasizes the importance of Farm Bill conservation programs. Of special note is continued support of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) which retained its authorized acreage level of 10 million acres and the lack of cuts to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which had seen cuts of $300 million in the President’s budget last year.
This year’s budget provides for $234 million for State and Private Forestry programs, a slight decrease from 2016 funding. However, it would change the way funds are used in wildland fire management. Under this budget, suppression expenses for the most severe fire activity, including large fires that require emergency response efforts, are close to urban center, or are for abnormally active fire seasons would be treated as extraordinary costs and would fall outside the discretionary budget caps thereby not increasing overall discretionary spending.
“We are excited to see this level of commitment to conservation from the administration and look forward to working with the administration and Congress on priority programs like Conservation Operations, State and Private Forestry Programs, EPA 319 Grants, Watershed Operations, and Farm Bill Conservation Programs,” McDaniel said.
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