National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition urges Senate to reject nearly $1 billion in farm bill cuts
Washington, DC, – The rescissions package being considered by the Senate this week would pull the rug out from under struggling farmers and ranchers, handicapping their ability to tap new markets, grow rural jobs, and conserve soil, water, and other resources on their land. The package would cut $657 million from farm bill conservation programs and $15 million from the Value Added Producer Grants program, which catalyzes entrepreneurship and job growth in food producing communities. Furthermore, the bill undermines the authority of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which is actively working to reauthorize the farm bill.
The decision to approve or reject the rescissions package comes before the Senate just one week before it will likely to vote on the draft farm bill, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) urges the Senate to defend the farm bill process and America’s farmers and ranchers by voting no on H.R.3, the Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act.
The rescissions package being considered this week would:
- Cut $157 million from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) on top of $1.5 billion in cuts already made by the Senate Agriculture Committee’s farm bill. EQIP is a cornerstone working lands conservation program, which provides financial and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to implement conservation activities on their land in production. If the EQIP rescission is passed, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will be prevented from signing more than 600 EQIP producer contracts.
- Claw back $335 million from the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), for which the Senate Agriculture Committee decided last week to increase funding by $1.5 billion. Rescinded funds that would otherwise be used to service existing easement contracts would have to be replaced by current easement funds; as a result, approximately 490 ACEP easements would not be made. ACEP provides support to private landowners, land trusts, and other entities to preserve agricultural lands, grasslands, and wetlands.
- Eliminate $15 million from the Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) program, which bolsters rural entrepreneurship and economic activity by helping family farmers grow and diversify their businesses. For past last five months, USDA Rural Development has been reviewing, ranking, and scoring hundreds of VAPG applications, but the rescissions package would stop that award process in its tracks.
American farmers and food-producing communities rely on farm bill funding to keep our food system vibrant and strong; the rescissions package would undermine the authority, spirit, and vital support of this important bill. A vote for the rescissions package is a vote against the farm bill, and against our nation’s farmers and ranchers, we therefore urge the Senate to oppose the Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act.