Yesterday afternoon, the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee adopted a government funding bill that if passed would turn back decades of progress to achieve a more sustainable and just food and farming system. This 2012 bill makes a second round of steep cuts to conservation, extension, research, renewable energy, and rural development programs. And just like in fiscal year 2011, none of the cuts are directed at crop subsidies, the largest federal agricultural spending item. The bill takes a total of $2.7 billion (13.4%) out of the food and agriculture budget including:
- Farm bill conservation funding would be cut by nearly $1 billion. The bill would force USDA to break contracts it has already signed with farmers enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program!
- Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE) funding would be cut by $3 million. The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) would be cut by $40 million.
- Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program would be cut by $6.4 million. Rural Micro-lending program would be completely eliminated.
- The Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) and the Biomass Crop Assistance (BCAP) would both be completely eliminated.
- Doing the bidding of multinational meat and poultry conglomerates, the bill forbids USDA from using any funds to write or publish the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rule to make livestock and poultry markets fairer and more competitive, a rule Congress directed USDA to write as part of the 2008 Farm Bill.
This bill has yet to become law until it passes the Senate. In this climate – every call counts! Let your Senators know we support a healthy, just and sustainable food and farming system. Letters from Senators stating their appropriations priorities are due Friday.
Go to Congress.org and type in your zip code. Click on your Senator’s name, and then on the contact tab for their DC phone number. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard and ask to be directly connected to your Senator’s office: 202-224-3121.
If in California:
- Call Fienstein’s DC office: 202-224-3841
- Call Boxer’s DC office: 202-224-3553
Tell them to reject the House Agricultural Appropriations Bill. Tell them to support full funding for farm bill conservation programs, to reject cutting jobs and growth with cuts to research, energy and rural development programs, and to stand up for farmers by protecting the GIPSA rule from meat packer interference.
For more information, visit the blog of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Thank you for supporting sustainable agriculture!