Leahy: Trump forest stance could delay farm bill
Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., a former chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, last week accused President Donald Trump’s administration and House Republicans of holding up the farm bill after Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a telephone news conference that the bill should contain provisions giving them authority to reach partnership agreements with localities and tribes as well as states to manage forest lands.
“It is outrageous that House Republicans and the Trump administration are continuing to hold up the farm bill negotiations over harmful and extreme forestry provisions,” Leahy said in a statement.
“Secretaries Perdue and Zinke shockingly are trying to co-opt the terrible tragedies in California to push for the Trump administration’s crass, cynical and unaccountable logging of the public’s national forests.
“Both have failed to mention that Congress, in March of this year, a mere eight months ago, already provided both of their agencies with historic fire prevention tools that the Appropriations Committee enacted as part of the bipartisan Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act. That bipartisan bill already cleared the way for them to perform expedited forest management practices and fuels reduction work on wildfire-prone forests.
“Instead of pushing for these extremely partisan provisions on behalf of a small minority in the timber lobby, House Republicans and the administration should be joining the Senate farm bill conferees to discuss bipartisan forestry solutions. That is how the Forestry Title has always worked, going back to the very first one I authored in the 1990 farm bill.
“I strongly urge Secretary Perdue and Secretary Zinke to start using the new fire prevention tools already at their disposal, instead of holding baseless press conferences to rake and stir up the coals of this ongoing tragedy to try to push for additional extreme logging authority.”