Kind Offers Motion to Support Farm Bill Conservation
Washington, D.C. ––U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) today offered a motion on the House floor directing the farm bill negotiators to maintain the highest levels of funding for critical conservation programs. The legislators who are crafting the final farm bill compromise have the option of taking the provisions of the bill passed in the House, those passed in the Senate, or making up new ones. Kind’s motion instructs them to adopt the House funding levels, which are higher than the Senate levels and those currently under discussion.
“With increased farming intensity on existing lands and pressure to bring even more land into production to meet biofuels mandates and help relieve rising food prices, these programs are more important now than ever,” Rep. Kind said. “The House passed a strong conservation title to the farm bill last year, and my motion instructs the House and Senate conferees to stick to the highest level possible for conservation rather than letting those funds give way to other programs.”
The farm bill passed by the House last July allocated an increase of $5.7 billion in conservation spending over the next 10 years, but the conference committee made up of lawmakers from the House and Senate to negotiate a final farm bill has released discussion drafts containing only a $4 billion increase. Kind’s motion, if passed, would be a non-binding instruction that the conference committee accept higher levels of funding as passed by the House for certain conservation programs.
Specifically, the motion supports:
- $4.1 billion for the Environmental Quality Incentive Program;
- $412 million for the Grassland Reserve Program;
- $2.3 billion for the Wetland Reserve Program; and,
- a Senate provision known as “sod saver,” which prohibits subsidized crop insurance and disaster payments to farms that break new ground on virgin prairie land.
“Two out of three farmers who request assistance to protect our water, soil, and wildlife resources are turned away,” Rep. Kind said. “We need to maximize the investment in environmental programs to meet the unmet need in rural America. These programs help our farmers meet their responsibility to be good stewards of the land and provide important benefits to the community at large. These are the programs that should be at the top of the priority list.”
The motion was debated on the House floor today, and a vote will occur on the motion on Monday.