Ensure Funding for Critical Conservation Programs: Call Your Senators Today!

Last week, the House of Representatives passed its Fiscal Year 2012 Agricultural Appropriations spending bill with deep cuts to funding for conservation programs.  The $1 billion in cuts to conservation programs are in addition to the $500 million reduction passed just a few months ago in the Fiscal Year 2011 appropriations bill.  These dramatic cuts will harm our nation’s ability to protect our working lands, maintain the health of our natural defenses – our rivers, wetlands, floodplains and upland and coastal areas – and safeguard communities.

The Senate must not follow the path of the House and instead must stand up for our nation’s agricultural conservation programs that are so cost-effective at providing clean water, wildlife habitat, safeguarding communities from floods, among many other benefits. While we are mindful of the need to address the federal deficit, these conservation programs have been doing more with less for more than a decade.

The flooding along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers this spring and the prediction that this flooding will cause the largest Gulf of Mexico dead zone ever recorded, must give our Senators pause to cutting crucial conservation programs.  As the heartland is being devastated by flooding, this is not the time to pull the conservation “rug” out from under working farmers and ranchers.  These effective conservation programs are already oversubscribed with a long waiting list of farmers wanting to implement conservation practices.  As American Rivers’ recent report “The Multiple Benefits of Floodplain Easements” describes, there is a huge unmet demand for floodplain easements in the Upper Midwest.

YOU CAN TAKE ACTION! Call your Senators TODAY and ask them to reject funding cuts to conservation programs!

When you call, keep the message simple. Tell them we need funding for conservation programs to:’

  1. Meet the huge demand for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) because these programs reduce agricultural pollution, particularly nitrate and phosphorous runoff and provide other benefits as well.
  2. Ensure the health of our rivers and protect wildlife habitat on our working farms and ranches—particularly through programs such as the Wetlands Reserve Program, Grasslands Reserve Program, and Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program.
  3. Safeguard communities from floods and promote rural economies by meeting the unmet demand for conservation easements and programs like the Conservation Reserve Program. When we fail to invest in flood prone areas, taxpayers are hit time and time again when farmland is flooded, crops are lost, and fields or buildings are damaged.

Here’s the number to call: (202) 224-3121 and request to be connected to your Senator’s office. 

Thank you!