A statement from Dr. Carol Goland, Executive Director, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association
The agriculture appropriations bill the House of Representatives just passed slashes $1 billion from mandatory farm bill conservation funding and tells the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to drop the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative.
The House measure would slash programs that support farmers who protect the soil and water on which our nation’s future productivity depends. Conservation programs were cut by $500 million in fiscal year 2011 and the House is proposing an additional cut of $1 billion for fiscal year 2012 to the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Environmental Quality Incentive Program, Farmland Protection Program, and the Wetlands Reserve Program.
These cuts are between 20 and 30 percent, and are grossly disproportionate to other spending cuts. The Conservation Stewardship Program cut is particularly egregious as it would require USDA to break contracts the government has signed with farmers who have committed to conservation practices.
Conservation program spending has been slashed while funding for commodity programs remains untouched in the House-passed bill. If cuts to mandatory funding are to be made, then everything has to be on the table.
A provision denying any funding for the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative is a direct attack on new farm and market opportunities, rural job growth, and public health. The initiative provides crucial coordination and public outreach to build new income opportunities for farmers producing for the local and regional markets.
These markets are essential to rural economic recovery and eliminating the Know Your Farmer initiative is shortsighted and extreme. Development of local and regional food systems and markets is a job creator and a good investment in public health.
We strongly urge the Senate to reject these unfair cuts to sustainable agriculture research, conservation, and education.
The Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association (OEFFA) is a non-profit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters who committed to work together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.Contact: Carol Goland, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, (614) 421-2022 Ferd Hoefner, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, (202) 547-5754