The National Sustainable Agriculture Committee, which signed on to the letter, voiced concern about lack of funding for the five major conservation programs – the Conservation Stewardship Program, Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Grassland Reserve Program and the Chesapeake Bay Conservation Initiative.
Though the Senate has passed their version of the 2012 Farm Bill, the House has yet to bring the legislation to vote. According to the house calendar, just 15 days in session remain before the end of the year.
Russia trade legislation is "critical"
Though the farm bill has received significant attention, the American Farm Bureau on Wednesday placed focus on ensuring the removal of Russia from the Jackson-Vanik amendment, a move that would allow establishment of Permanent Normal Trade Relations with Russia.
Bob Stallman, AFBF president, said in a statement Wednesday that the legislation is critical to ensuring the U.S. receives full benefits of Russia's accession into the World Trade Organization.
"U.S. farmers will have more certain and predictable market access as a result of Russia's commitment not to raise tariffs on any products above the negotiated rates and to apply international food safety standards in a uniform and transparent manner," Stallman said.
AFBF reports that Russian demand has the potential to significantly expand U.S. meat exports, and is forecast to support $1.4 billion in U.S. agricultural exports in 2012.
AFBF joined more than 500 organizations last week signing a letter to Congress reiterating agricultural interest in Russia PNTR.
The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on legislation granting PNTR with Russia on Thursday. No date has been released for potential House floor time on the farm bill.