Subcommittee Continues Review of Conservation Programs
(June 6, 2001)
The Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Rural Development and Research held the second of three hearings to discuss conservation issues. Specifically, the Subcommittee is interested in how current conservation programs are operating, what changes are necessary and their funding levels, and whether new programs are needed to help producers comply with regulatory standards.
Subcommittee Chairman Frank D. Lucas (R-OK) has asked all witnesses to prepare testimony in light of a comprehensive farm bill. "The interesting fact is that if we add up what the majority of groups asked for in the commodity title plus what most groups have asked for or are going to ask for in a conservation title, we will have already spent more money than was budgeted for the entire farm bill," said Lucas. "That is why I want to focus on what is working and what is not working; what is being done efficiently and effectively and what is not."
Several witnesses appearing before the committee requested increases in several conservation programs, including the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Wetland Reserve Program (WRP), Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), the Farmland Protection Program, and the creation of a grassland reserve. However, not all witnesses agreed that expansion of programs was a main priority.
Witnesses also faced questions addressing how the programs should be structured to best deal with the many regulations facing landowners, including Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL's), Animal Feeding Operations (AFO) and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO).
"The Subcommittee is deeply in the process of debating what should be done and is getting good information about how to rewrite the conservation programs to make them better," said Lucas. "We have less than two months to present our ideas to the full Committee."
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