June 17, 2011
CBF Issues Statement on House Cuts to Agricultural Conservation Funding
(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) Federal Affairs Director Doug Siglin issued this statement following a vote in the House to significantly reduce agricultural conservation funding for fiscal year 2012.
"Just as we are beginning to see progress in reducing pollution, the House of Representatives dealt a significant blow to family farms, local economies, and the health of rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay.
Agricultural conservation practices are the most efficient and inexpensive ways to reduce pollution, and Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania have developed pollution reduction plans that require agriculture to do its share. Reducing federal funding will increase the burden on the states and farmers who will have to make up the difference.
"The House voted to cut conservation programs for farmers and landowners by $645 million and reduce acreage in the Wetlands and Grasslands Reserve Programs by 160,000 acres. CBF commends the effort by Congressmen Holden and Thompson to restore the conservation funding and acreage cut before the final vote. CBF wrote to all the members of Congress from the Bay watershed urging them to vote for that effort, which proved to be unsuccessful.
"Putting farm conservation practices on the ground is not just good for water quality, it also helps local economies and the farm's bottom line. An economic study of practices considered critical for cleaning up Virginia rivers and restoring the Chesapeake Bay found that every public dollar spent on implementing the practices will produce $1.56 in new economic activity. Further, the practices would generate almost 12,000 new jobs of approximately one year duration. One practice, fencing cattle out of streams for example, reduces pollution, improves herd health, and increases weight gain by 5-10 percent. This can translate into increased value of calves of $15 per head.
"Fortunately the House doesn't have the last word. CBF and its partners will work to restore conservation funding when the Senate takes up the budget later this summer."