Coalition asks House and Senate Budget and Appropriations Committees to protect mandatory funding for critical farm and food assistance programs.
A broad alliance of farm, conservation, nutrition, and rural groups are urging the House and Senate Budget and Appropriations Committees to safeguard the 2014 Farm Bill and not re-open it through this year’s budget or appropriations process.
As part of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, CRL expresses our support with the scores of other farm and rural advocacy groups to ask that the Budget and Appropriations Committees respect the long and deliberative process that goes into the making of every farm bill.
In a strong and clear message by Greg Fogel, Policy Director at NSAC, “it would be entirely inappropriate for congressional appropriators to use the upcoming 2017 and 2018 appropriations bills to raid mandatory funds from crucial farm bill programs” like helping farmers implement conservation activities on their farm. He added that the nutrition assistance programs in the Farm Bill also provide access to healthy foods for low-income families.
“These decisions should be left to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to make next year (2018) as part of the normal farm bill (reauthorization) process,” Fogel said.
For many years now, the Coalition has fought against re-opening the farm bill during the appropriations process. Unfortunately, it has become increasingly common for appropriations bills to cut farm bill conservation program spending in order to fill discretionary spending gaps in other areas.
These cuts have limited the important impacts of the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, two primary means through which farmers, ranchers, and foresters build soil health, prepare for drought and flooding events, limit water pollution, and enhance wildlife habitat. These programs have been regularly targeted for spending reductions through backdoor cuts known as “changes in mandatory program spending.”
The letter to members of Congress sent by the farm, food and rural advocacy groups is a firm reminder that appropriators should not be in the business of cutting or postponing mandatory funding for farm bill programs through the appropriations cycle.
CRL urges our members and broader network to express their support in this regard: send a similar message to your Representative and Senators, or write a letter to your local newspaper. More details about this advocacy effort can be found at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition website, along with a copy of the letter sent to members of Congress.