[audubon-news] Audubon Statement on the 2002 Farm Bill

  • From: "BIANCHI, John" <JBIANCHI@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "'Audubon-news@xxxxxxxxxxxxx'" <Audubon-news@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>,"'chapter-communicator@xxxxxxxxxxxxx'" <chapter-communicator@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 14 May 2002 17:22:37 -0400

Contact:  Cristine Romano
cromano@xxxxxxxxxxx <mailto:cromano@xxxxxxxxxxx>


Washington, D.C., May 13th 2002 - "We made significant progress in making
conservation an integral part of the new 2002 Farm Bill.  Just signed into
law, the bill provides for $17.1 billion in new money over 10 years for
conservation programs-more money for birds, wildlife, and their habitat,
than has ever been contained in a farm bill.

"With input from state directors and others in the Audubon family, Audubon's
public policy goals for the farm bill were outlined and reviewed by the
Board of Directors just over a year ago.  The goals and the progress we made
towards achieving them are outlined below.

"One of Audubon's top priorities, the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) is
included in the new farm law.  This new program calls for enrolling 2
million acres to protect and restore native grasslands.  The GRP will
protect critical habitat for declining grassland songbirds like the
grasshopper sparrow, lark bunting, and western meadowlark.

"In addition, we were successful in expanding the Conservation Reserve
Program by more than 10 percent to 39.2 million acres, and we achieved
significant increases in acreage or funding for the Wildlife Habitat
Incentives Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program. 

"The conservation provisions are only a small part of the overall new farm
law.  There are many bad and questionable provisions contained in the farm
package including significant subsidies to grain-growing operations that
will give an unfair competitive advantage to large producers and for
commodities that likely violate international trade agreements.  Criticism
of these provisions is well deserved and we will do everything possible to
blunt the impact of these provisions in the implementation phase.

"Audubon fought hard to get the best possible conservation provisions
possible in the final version sent to the President.  Significant increases
in conservation funding failed narrowly on the House floor last summer.  The
final bill even fell short of the conservation funding levels that passed
the Senate.  Strong commodity and agribusiness interests fought hard to
limit every dollar going to conservation, and the Bush Administration
provided little leadership on the overall farm bill, including the
conservation provisions.  Still, in a difficult climate, the legislation
contains real conservation victories that will affect millions of acres of
bird and wildlife habitat throughout the nation.

"Audubon will now work hard to ensure that the implementation and funding of
the 2002 Farm Bill provides the best conservation and bird and wildlife
habitat benefits possible."

Audubon Guiding Principles and Farm Bill Provisions

Goal: More funding for incentive-based conservation, not less: 
Expanded Conservation Reserve Program to 39.2 million acres. 
New Grasslands Reserve Program with short-term to permanent
New Conservation Security Program to reward farmers for applying
conservation practices to working lands
Expanded Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program funding by ten-fold to $700
Expanded Farmable Wetlands Pilot to 1 million-acre national program. 
Expanded Wetlands Reserve Program to over 2 million acres.
Expanded Farmland Protection Program to $100 million per year to protect
working farms from development
Next steps: Participate in rules/regulations process to insure on-the-ground
effectiveness and feasibility. Participate in outreach and implementation of
programs, especially Farmable Wetlands and GRP (both programs with a prairie

Goal: Concurrent with support for incentive-based programs, existing
conservation compliance provisions should be strengthened and expanded: 
Audubon strongly supported Senator Durbin's amendment that would have
significantly deterred the continuing conversion of grasslands to crop
production. The provisions were lost, but the new Grasslands Reserve Program
was established. This program will at least provide an incentive-based
alternative to conversion. The Swampbuster provisions survived the
conference and are still law.

Next steps: Promote participation in the new GRP as a deserved reward for
protecting a critically important native natural resource. Be vigilant of
efforts to dilute swampbuster provisions. This is critically important in
the wake of the US Supreme Court decision limiting federal protections for
isolated wetlands. Continue to be actively involved in ongoing wetland
issues in South Dakota subsequent to the 1999 Audubon lawsuit against the
Department of Agriculture National Resource Conservation Service that
prevented the draining of agricultural wetlands.  This is the frontline of
the battle to protect isolated wetlands across the nation. 

Goal: Soil, water, air and wildlife benefits must be treated as valuable
conservation commodities: 
The new GRP will provide incentives to protect grasslands from conversion to
cropland and treat remaining native grasslands critical to threatened and
endangered plants and animals as "conservation commodities".  
The new Conservation Security Program will provide rewards for practices on
working farms and treat that land stewardship as a "conservation commodity".

Next steps: Actively engage to promote participation in this new program. 

Goal: Agricultural policy and conservation programs must be expanded beyond
traditional farm commodities, so that small, non-conventional farmers do not
fall through the cracks: 
Program support was expanded for wool, mohair, honey, apples, lentils, pulse
crops and other specialty crops. 

Next steps: Work through the rules/regulations process to provide program
eligibility beyond conventional production agriculture (e.g. other specialty
crops, organic farming, etc.). 

Goal: Innovative technical assistance on the ground is critical to any
effort to advance sound conservation stewardship. Adequate funding for
conservation program field support staff is imperative: 
Full funding for technical assistance will be authorized for each
conservation program. 

Next steps: Work to insure that the technical assistance needed to
effectively implement conservation programs is fully funded. Continue to
provide field support to assist and facilitate conservation program


Other related posts:

  • » [audubon-news] Audubon Statement on the 2002 Farm Bill