Coalition advocates for bolstered conservation funding
WASHINGTON – Today, April 8, 70 leading agriculture, conservation and wildlife groups delivered a letter to Congress requesting robust funding for conservation programs and technical assistance in fiscal year (FY) 2022 appropriations.
In the letter, American Farmland Trust, the National Association of Conservation Districts, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the National Wildlife Federation and other signatories called upon House and Senate appropriators to provide needed robust increases to discretionary United States Department of Agriculture conservation funding and reject any cuts to farm bill conservation programs through the FY22 appropriations process.
“As Congress and USDA continue to increase focus on climate change and the opportunities that agriculture and forestry can provide to sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and build resilience, funding for conservation support is more important now than ever,” the coalition stated.
The letter asks lawmakers to maintain full funding for conservation programs mandated by the 2018 farm bill, including the Conservation Reserve Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Regional Conservation Partnership Program and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, and urges appropriators to provide at least $1.2 billion in FY22 discretionary funding for conservation operations, including $1.1 billion in critical funding for Conservation Technical Assistance. This money facilitates Natural Resources Conservation Service operations outside of the mandatory farm bill programs and allows field staff to provide direct, on-the-ground technical assistance and planning support.
“Technical assistance is essential for the delivery of conservation support for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners across the country by providing capacity and conservation planning to support conservation practice implementation,” the groups wrote. “We must not hamstring our investment in conservation and climate efforts by under-funding technical assistance and local staffing capacity.”
AFT, NACD, NSAC and NWF stand united with the more than 66 co-signed organizations in urging appropriators to protect funding for critical conservation programs and technical assistance in FY 2022.
“Technical assistance is the foundation upon which all future conservation and climate successes can be built, and a robust investment in the CTA program will help fulfill these goals and set up our nation’s producers for success,” the groups wrote.
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Of the approximately 2,270 acres that burned in the April 1, 2021, Medora, N.D., fire, rancher Doug Tescher said all but about 100 acres were U.S. Forest Service land that he utilizes for summer grazing.