Disappointing Extension--Support a Comprehensive Farm Bill
8/2/2012 UPDATE: The Alliance's signature on a letter of opposition, joined a chorus of voices that ultimately killed the extension proposal and seem to have galvanized support for completing a 5-year Farm Bill in September. On Thursday, the House passed a stand-alone drought relief bill. That bill is funded by cuts to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which we oppose, but the easement programs are spared.
As you may have seen, the House Leadership has proposed a one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill. Our initial response (in Thursday's Advocates) was positive, as we had hoped it would actually provide a procedural mechanism to get a comprehensive Farm Bill adopted by the October 1 deadline. Unfortunately, it appears the extension is crafted in a way that would preclude such a maneuver.
Viewed as a serious legislative proposal, the extension bill is extremely disappointing. Not only does it delay action on the bipartisan FARRM Act (H.R. 6083) adopted by the House Agriculture Committee, it also funds emergency drought relief largely at the expense of conservation programs. 75% of the cuts in this extension come from the 7% of the Farm Bill dedicated to conservation. The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) would be cut from $200 million to $150 million next year, while the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) would lose its mandatory funding authorization altogether.
This afternoon, the Alliance and 12 other national conservation organizations sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) decrying these disproportionate cuts to conservation.
While we certainly welcome you to express disappointment to your representative, we encourage you to remain focused on promoting adoption of a comprehensive 5-year Farm Bill along the lines of the bipartisan bills adopted by the Senate and the House Agriculture Committee. Even if this extension is adopted by the House, it will likely face a cool reception in the Senate, so there's still reason to hope that a comprehensive Farm Bill will prevail this year.
We will keep you posted.
Western Policy Manager
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