Monday, February 12, 2018

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition: Trump Proposes Eliminating Basic Programs Supporting On-Farm Conservation Practices

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Monday said President Trump's FY 2019 budget request, released earlier today, is the most anti-rural, anti-farmer proposal the agriculture community has seen in years.
“The proposals included in this budget request would undermine decades of investments in American agriculture,” said Greg Fogel, Policy Director at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. “Farmers already facing major economic struggles will be further squeezed, rural communities will be at risk of losing desperately-needed tools and resources for job creation and enterprise development, low-income families will be denied critical nutrition support, and we will all feel the impact of a less sustainable food and agricultural system.”
Farmers know that conservation is not just good for the environment; it’s also good for their bottom line.
Interest in voluntary conservation programs has never been higher, and yet the President’s budget request seeks to undermine the very resources farmers rely on by privatizing conservation planning (currently administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service) and eradicating the nation’s largest and most comprehensive conservation program, the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
Over 72 million acres of farm, ranch, and forestland is currently enrolled in CSP – roughly eight percent of all agricultural land. This program, which helps producers improve soil health, water quality, and related natural resources, is so popular that thousands of qualified applicants routinely have to be turned away for lack of funds.
In addition to CSP, the budget proposes to to eliminate the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which supports targeted conservation projects, administered in partnership with non-federal entities.
The proposal to eliminate CSP and RCPP proves that the White House is drastically out of touch with the needs of farmers and rural communities.
USDA’s conservation programs are farmers’ first line of defense against drought, flooding, and other natural disasters-- events that are increasingly more frequent. By undercutting one of farmers’ key risk management tools, the President’s budget put American family farmers-- and tax payers – at serious risk.
The long-term costs to farmers, communities, taxpayers, and our shared natural resources of eliminating conservation support would be enormous, and Congress must therefore reject the Administration’s proposal.
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