HOUSE RE-OPENS FARM BILL
Deep Cuts in Rural Development, Ag Research, Conservation, and Renewable Energy
The fiscal year 2004 agricultural appropriations bill approved by the House subcommittee June 17 and headed to a vote in full committee on June 25 re-opens the 2002 farm bill. According to an analysis by the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, based on Congressional Budget Office figures, the appropriations bill proposes to slash funding for key family farm, rural development, conservation, and research farm bill programs by $445 million. The bill would reduce rural development farm bill funding by 99%, agricultural research by 98%, renewable energy by 31%, and conservation by at least 17%. The bill also prohibits funding for implementation of country-of-origin labeling for meat. The subcommittee's revamping of farm bill funding levels leaves commodity programs, which account for nearly three-quarters of total farm bill spending, untouched.
"The backdoor effort to eliminate funding for the Conservation Security Program, Value-Added Producer Grant Program, and other innovative initiatives to support family farms and the environment is unwise," said Ferd Hoefner, Washington Representative for the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. "The agricultural appropriations funding problem - an allocation $393 million below this year's levels - is real, but raiding the farm bill and taking away conservation and rural development funding is not the answer. If the very compromises that enabled the farm bill to pass are scuttled by the House bill in this manner, then we are likely headed for a re-run of the entire farm bill debate later this summer."
The House bill proposes to eliminate the Conservation Security Program, Value-Added Producer Grants program, On-Farm Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency grants, Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems, and Broadband Access for Rural Areas, among others. Significant cuts are also made to the Wetlands Reserve Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The cuts are:
Conservation Security Program - $53 million
Value-Added Producer Grants - $40 million
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Grants - $23 million
Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems - $120 million
Broadband Access for Rural Areas - $20 million
Wetlands Reserve Program - $56 million
Environmental Quality Incentive Program - $25 million
Please contact your representatives < http://www.house.gov/writerep/> and forward this to everyone you know who may be concerned with these issues. Get it out to the press also. They're intending to gut everything!
SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE COALTION
For info contact: Ferd Hoefner