|Washington, D.C., June 1, 2011—“The budget choices made by the House Agriculture Appropriations Sub-committee are short-sighted at best when considering the agriculture, conservation and environmental needs of our country now and in the future,” says Jon Scholl, President of American Farmland Trust (AFT). “The Sub-committee has chosen to reduce conservation spending in many programs by approximately 25 percent without a plan to make up these reductions.”
Farmers and ranchers manage nearly half the land in the United States. “Farm and ranchland is the key ingredient in any farm operation,” adds Scholl. “Helping farmers protect this key resource is critical. We need farmland to be in the healthiest state possible for the long-term production of food, fiber, biofuels, and the many environmental benefits that farmers produce as stewards of this land.”
“If we do not fund conservation programs robustly, we are putting millions of acres of farmland at risk to unplanned development. We also constrain that land to a less than ideal fate as we face the challenge of growing the food needed by a hungry world population with fewer natural resources available to our nation’s farmers and ranchers,” says Scholl.
“I think everyone understands there are tough choices to be made in this budget climate,” Scholl continues. “However, our country and our world need an adequate supply of healthy farmland AND healthy food, even more so in coming years as the world population is predicted to grow. I therefore join in Chairman Lucas’ (R-OK) request that if budget cuts are to be made then the Agriculture Committee is best positioned to understand the tradeoffs as well as ways to make up for any future deficiencies.”
“While the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee has made some short-sighted choices for the budget year ahead, we can hope they, and their Congressional colleagues, will think about the long-term needs of our country as the full House votes on this proposal,” adds Scholl. “In turn, we trust that the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee takes a more long term view about our agricultural and conservation needs, and achieves a better balance in their choices and tradeoffs as they begin their work on this important bill, for all people who care about farms and food.”
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.