AGRICULTURE SUBCOMMITTEE HOLDS HEARING TO REVIEW IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FARM BILL CONSERVATION PROGRAMS
WASHINGTON, D.C.-Congressman Frank D. Lucas, Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Rural Development and Research, convened a hearing today to review implementation of the Farm Bill conservation programs. Lucas lauded the Farm Bill's conservation programs as a "phenomenal success." With the help of funds from the Farm Bill, the nation is seeing the largest voluntary programs in its history.
The Subcommittee heard from two panels of witnesses. A complete list of those testifying is available at the bottom of the release.
The Chairman noted several specific programs, including the Conservation Security Program (CSP). The program was created as a nationwide program; however, Congress placed a $41 million cap on the program for FY04, limiting the potential for the program to reach across the nation and include all producers. Lucas voiced his concern: "I think that we have placed the Department in an interesting predicament. They must implement a capped program this year and then possibly be prepared to implement a capped or uncapped program next year."
The Chairman asked that discussion regarding CSP remain constructive and relative to options that can exist under the current law.
The Chairman noted the importance of ensuring producer expectations are met. "These are voluntary producer programs and at the end of the day the programs must work for producers and provide appropriate environmental benefits," Lucas said. Additionally, the Chairman brought up the issue of technical assistance. "We are again faced with the unfortunate possibility of EQIP, WHIP, FRPP, and GRP being used to fund technical assistance for CRP and WRP.? Lucas encouraged the Senate to pass the budget as well as clarify language to ensure that technical assistance is executed in a fair manner."
Mr. James R. Little, Administrator, Farm Service Agency, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Bruce I. Knight, Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, Washington, DC
Mr. Joseph Logan, President, Ohio Farmers Union, Ottawa, Ohio, on behalf of the National Farmers Union
Mr. Timothy Laatsch, Environmental Systems Manager, The Maschhoffs, Inc., Carlyle, Illinois, on behalf of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, and United Egg Producers
Mr. Sherman Reese, Vice President, National Association of Wheat Growers, Echo, Oregon, on behalf of National Association of Wheat Growers, American Soybean Association, National Barley Growers Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Grain Sorghum Producers, U.S. Rice Producers Association, and USA Rice Federation
Mr. Kenneth Rose, Past President, National Grain Sorghum Producers, Keyes, Oklahoma
Mr. Bill Wilson, President Elect, National Association of Conservation Districts, Kinta, Oklahoma
Mr. David Harms, President, Crop ProTech, Bloomington, Illinois, on behalf of the Certified Crop Adviser Program and the American Society of Agronomy
Mr. David E. Nomsen, Vice President of Governmental Affairs, Pheasants Forever, Alexandria, Minnesota, on behalf of Archery Trade Association, Boone and Crockett Club, Bowhunting Preservation Alliance, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, Conservation Force, Dallas Safari Club, Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited, Foundation for North American Wild Sheep, Izaak Walton League of America, National Wild Turkey Federation, North American Grouse Partnership, Pheasants Forever, Pope and Young Club, Safari Club International, Texas Wildlife Association, The International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Wildlife Habitat Council, and Wildlife Management Institute
Mr. Craig Cox, Executive Director, Soil and Water Conservation Society, Ankeny, Iowa, on behalf of American Farmland Trust, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental Defense, Henry A. Wallace Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Policy at Winrock International, Mississippi River Basin Alliance, National Wildlife Federation, Soil and Water Conservation Society, Sierra Club, Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and Union of Concerned Scientists