Given the country’s fiscal situation, agriculture spending will have to take its share of cuts (“Farm Programs Under Scrutiny,” Columbus Dispatch, 6/1/11). However, the targeting of particular programs is troubling.
Budget cuts recently approved by the U.S. House Appropriations Committee make a second round of massive cuts to conservation, extension, research, renewable energy, and rural development programs.
Any short-term savings will be at the expense of critically important soil and water resources. These programs provide crucial benefits to us all-farmer and consumer-by helping farmers address key resource concerns, comply with regulations, and protect soil and farmland to provide lasting food security. Pressure to produce food and fuel is increasing and voluntary programs to help farmers adopt sustainable farming practices are needed now more than ever.
Working lands conservation programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) improve soil, air, and water quality on farms. Innovative programs such as the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE) and the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA) are providing farmers with the information, support, and incentives needed to profitably steward the land. The demand for these programs routinely exceeds the funds available. Reducing, or in some cases, eliminating these programs altogether, is short-sighted.
Read this editorial at The Columbus Dispatch.