Congress should redirect savings from lower crop subsidies, as proposed in a Senate bill introduced today, to the popular but woefully underfunded agricultural conservation programs, urged the Izaak Walton League on February 15.
"We think the bill proposed today by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, is an important step in the right direction toward ending the environmental and economic damage caused by a system of limitless crop subsidies," says Brad Redlin, director of agricultural programs for the League.
"We believe that spending for farmland conservation programs should increase both in total dollar amount and as a percentage of total payments, while subsidy payments are decreased," Redlin adds. "Conservation funds should be directed to operations that are likely to produce the greatest environmental benefits."
Conservation programs comply with WTO
League policy, which is set by its members, states that the federal government should advance environmentally sound farming by replacing existing commodity program subsidies with programs that strengthen conservation and stewardship incentives.
Despite a record authorization of $9.2 billion for agricultural conservation programs in the 2002 Farm Bill, untold opportunities to restore and protect vital farmlands for clean air and water, and wildlife habitat benefits are squandered as Congress habitually under funds five key conservation programs in USDA.
"Potential cuts to agricultural spending should not come from conservation programs, especially since they comply with all World Trade Organization rules and donâ€™t distort world market prices," Redlin, says, adding, "the good intentions in legislating conservation, prairie, and wetland protection programs are no substitute for actually fully funding them."
Founded in 1922, the Izaak Walton League of America is dedicated to common sense conservation that protects America's hunting, fishing, and outdoor heritage relying on solution-oriented conservation, education, and the promotion of outdoor recreation for the benefit of our citizens. The League has more than 40,000 members and supporters in 21 state divisions and more than 300 local chapters in 32 states.