The League joined with other concerned organizations in a letter to the U.S. House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee urging them to protect mandatory funding for the farm bill conservation program. Without the mandatory funding farmers and ranchers will not be able to implement common sense conservation practices.

 
May 5, 2015
 
The Honorable Robert Aderholt, Chairman 
House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee
 
The Honorable Jerry Moran, Chairman 
Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee
 
The Honorable Sam Farr, Ranking Member 
House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee
 
The Honorable Jeff Merkley, Ranking Member 
Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee
 
Dear Chairman Aderholt, Chairman Moran, Ranking Member Farr, and Ranking Member Merkley:
 
The undersigned organizations oppose re-opening the farm bill and thus urge you to protect farm bill conservation program mandatory funding as you consider agriculture appropriations legislation for fiscal year 2016.
 
Last year, the Agricultural Act of 2014 consolidated or eliminated nearly a dozen conservation programs and reduced mandatory funding by $4 billion, with sequestration scheduled to cut an additional $2 billion. The House and Senate Agriculture Committees did their part to reduce federal spending and did so voluntarily. The cuts contained in the new farm bill were real, serious, and deep. Under current law, new enrollments in conservation programs will decline by millions of acres in FY 2016; sequestration alone will cut $260 million from mandatory conservation spending in FY 2016. Opening up the farm bill to reduce these programs even more should be off the table in the appropriations bill.
 
Yet, according to the Office of Management and Budget, the President’s FY 2016 budget request proposes hundreds of millions of dollars in additional cuts to the farm bill Conservation Title. The President’s request includes a 3 million acre cut to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), a 30 percent reduction below the 10 million acres mandated by the 2014 Farm Bill. The budget proposes a 23 percent cut in funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). We strongly oppose these proposed cuts and urge you to reject them or any other cuts to conservation program funding. The President’s proposal is shortsighted and would severely limit the capacity of farmers, ranchers, and foresters to conserve water, maintain their soil, and produce abundant food and fiber.
 
Agricultural conservation programs are the first line of defense in preparing for extreme weather events and avoiding the need for environmental regulations; and without the consistent funding provided by the Agriculture Committees in the farm bill, farmers and ranchers will not be able to implement common sense conservation practices. A growing world population will only increase pressure on private agricultural lands, and protecting the health of the soil, improving the quantity and quality of water, and providing robust wildlife habitat will be critical to the future. Each depends on voluntary, incentive-based conservation practices.
 
Additional cuts to farm bill conservation programs would leave producers high and dry when trying to prepare for and manage drought, flooding, and other extreme weather. It would mean more water pollution and less wildlife habitat. It would drive up long-term costs for environmental mitigation, and threaten our nation’s food security.
 
As the Subcommittees develop FY 2016 appropriations bills, we urge you to keep the farm bill intact, to reject the Administrations’ irresponsible farm bill cuts, and to protect these vital programs and the public goods they support.
 
Sincerely,
 
Alabama Association of Conservation Districts 
Alliance for Sustainable Communities 
Alliance for the Great Lakes 
Alternative Energy Resources Organization 
American Bird Conservancy 
American Farmland Trust 
American Forests 
American Rivers 
American Seed Trade Association 
American Society of Agronomy 
Association of State Floodplain Managers 
Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies 
Audubon 
Audubon Naturalist Society 
Bluestem Communications 
Brown County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America 
Buckeye All-State Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America 
California Climate and Agriculture Network 
California FarmLink 
Cass County, Minnesota Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America 
Catholic Rural Life 
Cecil Land Use Association 
Center for Family Farm Development, Inc. 
Center for Rural Affairs 
Central New York Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America 
Certified Naturally Grown 
Chesapeake Bay Foundation 
Clean Water Action 
Community Food & Justice Coalition 
Conservation Federation of Missouri 
Conservation Pennsylvania 
CROPP Cooperative - Organic Valley 
Crop Science Society of America 
Decatur Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America 
Defenders of Wildlife 
Dwight Lydell Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America 
Endangered Habitats League 
Florida Wildlife Federation 
Fredericksburg-Rappahannock Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America Galveston Bay Foundation Grassworks Inc.
Hamilton Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America 
Headwaters Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America 
Heart of the Lakes Center for Land Conservation Policy 
Illinois Council of Trout Unlimited 
Illinois Stewardship Alliance Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy 
Iowa Environmental Council 
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation Izaak Walton League of America
Kansas Association of Conservation Districts 
Kansas Rural Center
Kansas Wildlife Federation 
Land Conservancy of New Jersey
Land Improvement Contractors of America 
Land Stewardship Project 
Land Trust Alliance 
League of Women Voters of the U.S. 
Loken Excavation & Drainage, Inc. 
Maryland Conservation Council 
Michael Fields Agricultural Institute 
Michigan Food & Farming Systems
Michigan Clean Water Action 
Michigan Young Farmer Coalition
Midwest Environmental Advocates 
Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service 
Milwaukee Riverkeeper 
Minnesota Conservation Federation 
Missouri Coalition for the Environment 
Missouri Prairie Foundation 
National Association of Clean Water Agencies 
National Association of Conservation Districts 
National Association of RC&D Councils 
National Association of Water Companies 
National Center for Appropriate Technology 
National Farmers Union 
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition 
National Wildlife Federation 
National Young Farmers Coalition 
Natural Resources Defense Council 
Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society 
Nebraska Wildlife Federation 
New Jersey Audubon Society 
New Jersey Conservation Foundation 
New York State Division of the Izaak Walton League of America 
North Dakota Wildlife Federation 
Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance 
Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group 
Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides
Ohio Division of the Izaak Walton League of America 
Ohio Environmental Council 
Ohio River Foundation 
Ohio Wetlands Association 
Oregon Association of Conservation Districts 
Oregon Tilth PCC Farmland Trust 
Pennsylvania Council of Churches 
Pesticide Action Network 
Pheasants Forever 
Pollinator Partnership 
Practical Farmers of Iowa 
Prairie Rivers Network 
Prince William Conservation Alliance 
Quail Forever 
Rapid City Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America 
River Alliance of Wisconsin S
henandoah Riverkeeper 
Sleepy Creek Watershed Association 
Slow Food USA Soil and Water Conservation 
Society Soil Science 
Society of America 
South Dakota Wildlife Federation 
St. Mary’s River Watershed Association 
Tennessee Clean Water Network 
The 29-90 Sportsmen Club 
The Nature Conservancy 
The Wetlands Initiative 
The Wildlife Society 
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership 
Union of Concerned Scientists 
Upper Potomac Riverkeeper 
Virginia Association for Biological Farming 
Washington Sustainable Food & Farming Network 
Water Environment Federation 
Western Reserve Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America 
Wild Farm Alliance Wildlife Mississippi 
Wisconsin Farmers Union Women, Food and Agriculture Network 
World Wildlife Fund Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation
 
Cc: Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees