Agriculture Subcommittee Continues Farm Policy Audit With Hearing on Conservation Programs

Jul 7, 2011

Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184

WASHINGTON –Today, Rep. Glenn 'GT' Thompson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry, continued the audit hearings on farm policy, which is the first step in the farm bill process. Each chairman of the six subcommittees will hold hearings to examine programs in their respective jurisdictions to determine spending trends and confirm how programs work together.

Conservation programs protect soil, water, wildlife, and other natural resources on agricultural land. Currently, there are more than 20 conservation programs and subprograms that are administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Some of the larger programs include: Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).

Today, Subcommittee Members questioned USDA administrators on how these programs can be streamlined to be more effective and efficient. Although the past two farm bills saw dramatic increases in conservation spending, several of the programs do not have a budget baseline beyond the expiration of the 2008 Farm Bill.

"Today’s hearing provided members of the subcommittee an opportunity to hear from USDA about the content of the many Title II programs. I believe this hearing gives our members a solid foundation of knowledge as we prepare to draft a new conservation title that provides necessary programs to our farmers and ranchers in a cost-effective manner," said Chairman Glenn 'GT' Thompson (R-PA).

"A consistent message we are hearing across the country is that more people are needed in the field to assist producers in making land management decisions and implementing conservation practices. As we focus on deficit reduction and the streamlining of federal programs, it is important that we ensure USDA remains able to deliver effective conservation programs with fewer resources and respond to the demand from those landowners who depend on them to combat economic and regulatory pressures," said Ranking Member Tim Holden (D-PA).

Written testimony provided by the witnesses is linked below.

Witness List:

Panel I

Mr. Dave White, Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Bruce Nelson, Administrator, Farm Service Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.