Friday, March 19, 2010

Robbing Peter to pay Paul

This was sent to me this morning. It was found on the Northern Ag Network website.

Child Nutrition Bill Would Mean Big Cuts to EQIP
(Washington, DC—March 18, 2010) Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) yesterday introduced a child nutrition bill that would cut more than $2 billion dollars from the largest of USDA's working lands conservation programs, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), according to a leading conservation group. As a result of EQIP's nationwide popularity, Congress increased funding for EQIP in the 2008 Farm Bill by $3.4 billion over 10 years. Senator Lincoln's proposed EQIP cuts would wipe out more than two-thirds of that increase.

"We support better child nutrition, but there are better ways to pay for this worthy bill than by cutting USDA's conservation programs," said Sara Hopper, director of agricultural policy for Environmental Defense Fund and a former staff member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. "The Environmental Quality Incentives Program is a great deal for taxpayers because it spurs private investment in public benefits, including cleaner water, cleaner air and improved wildlife habitat. It's one of several conservation programs that assists farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners in Arkansas and other states who offer to spend their own time and money to improve the management of their land to benefit the environment."

EQIP allows farmers to share with USDA the cost of implementing practices on working agricultural and forest lands that deliver a broad array of environmental benefits, including improved water quality, soil quality, air quality, forest health, and wildlife habitat. Farmer demand for the program routinely outstrips available funding; in the most recent year that USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) published EQIP enrollment numbers—Fiscal Year 2008—farmer demand for the program was so great that NRCS was forced to reject nearly half a billion dollars ($487 million) worth of applications by almost 24,000 farmers nationwide, about one third of all farmers who applied.

"Congress passed the 2008 Farm Bill with broad bipartisan support, and the investment it made in conservation was one reason for that broad support," Hopper concluded. "We are disappointed to see Senator Lincoln propose cutting conservation funding so soon after taking over the chairmanship of the Agriculture Committee. We hope she and other members of the committee will consider alternative ways to pay for child nutrition legislation as this bill moves forward."

Source: Environmental Defense Fund

I found another story about this at Agri-Pulse.

While everyone should agree that we should all be behind Child Nutrition, I am not conviced that cutting funding to the EQIP program is the route to take. Taking money from a program that does so much for farmers, ranchers, water supplies, wildlife, enviroment, and range health is not the route to go, in my opinion. Alot of good is done with the EQIP program that some producers would not be able to accomplish on their own.

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