Most things really do come down to money. Conserving and restoring the Great Lakes is one more example that this adage bares truth. The Farm Bill is up for reauthorization – the outcome of the Senate’s deliberations will be in effect for the next half decade – and it is critical that the program that helps Great Lakes farmers conserve land, farm wisely and protect the health of the lakes gets additional funding.
In the past, farmers who have wanted to participate in the conservation program that improves water quality and restores wildlife habitats that supports an $18 billion hunting and fishing industry, have been turned away empty handed due to insufficient funds. Well, it’s looking like the farmers may see more of the same. There is only so much money to go around and the Senate Agriculture Committee, feeling strangled by dangling purse strings, has moved away from the House-approved bill that would provide nearly $5 billion in additional funds for this program. Instead Senators are considering siphoning $2 billion off to other uses and shorting the in-demand program.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) is politely wrangling with committee members in an attempt to incorporate their ideas into the bill and ensure swift passage when it hits the floor. Reportedly, Harkin favors reducing direct payments to farmers as a way to pay for more conservation programs, but this isn’t a super popular idea among lawmakers.
It is essential that Congress fund this successful program. Here are some steps you can take to help push through the much needed funding.
Call the Senate switchboard (202)224-3121 and ask for your Senator’s office, then ask for the staff person working on the farm bill and request at least $5 billion in additional funding for the Conservation Programs. For more info on what you can say or do click here.