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CONTACT:
Jennifer Morrill 202-378-1255, jmorrill@farmland.org
 

The Honorable Robert Byrd, Chairman, Committee on Appropriations

The Honorable Thad Cochran, Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations

The Honorable Herb Kohl, Chairman, Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies

The Honorable Robert Bennett, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies

The Honorable David Obey, Chairman, Committee on Appropriations

The Honorable Jerry Lewis, Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations

The Honorable Rosa DeLauro, Chairwoman, Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies

The Honorable Jack Kingston, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies

September 8, 2008

Dear Chairs and Ranking Members,

We urge you to retain the fiscal year 2009 funding levels for farm bill conservation programs as
set in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. Conservation programs have been
historically under-funded relative to the need. There were many competing demands for funds
in the 2008 Farm Bill, and the new mandatory funding dedicated to the Conservation Title
represents a compromise between competing priorities. Congress strongly supported the final
bill, and we believe that it is essential to retain mandatory funding at the levels set in the bill to
preserve this compromise and address as many of the unmet needs for conservation programs
across the United States as possible. We strongly oppose the cuts to Conservation Title programs
proposed in the Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill (S.3289) and in the amendments to the
FY 09 budget request submitted to Congress by the White House on August 1.

Agriculture provides important environmental benefits to the public by applying
conservation systems on the land. Farmers are willing to share in the cost of protecting our
environment, but currently more than half of farmer applicants are turned away by USDA
because of insufficient federal funding. As a result, we continue to lose thousands of acres of
farmland, wetlands, grasslands and private forest lands, and our efforts to clean up rivers, lakes,
and bays are falling further behind schedule. The funding levels set for some conservation
programs in the 2008 Farm Bill are an important first step towards addressing these problems
and it is critical that the funding levels not be reduced in the appropriations process.

We urge you to ensure that the 2008 Farm Bill delivers on its commitment to conservation on
our working farms, ranches and forests. The funding levels for conservation in the 2008 Farm
Bill must be retained.

Sincerely,
American Farmland Trust
American Rivers
National Audubon Society
Center for Native Ecosystems
Defenders of Wildlife
Environmental Defense Fund
Society for Historical Archaeology
Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Land Trust Alliance
Pollinator Partnership
Partners for Sustainable Pollination
The Nature Conservancy
Union of Concerned Scientists
Natural Resource Defense Council
National Wildlife Federation
Izaak Walton League of America

 

American Farmland Trust is the nation's leading conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land. Since its founding in 1980 by a group of farmers and citizens concerned about the rapid loss of farmland to development, AFT has helped save millions of acres of farmland from development and led the way for the adoption of conservation practices on millions more.

AFT's national office is located in Washington, DC. Phone: 202-331-7300. For more information, visit www.farmland.org.

 
American Farmland Trust