Tell Your Senators: Don’t Cut Conservation Programs


Take Action to Support Clean Water

Take a moment right now to urge your Senators to reject cuts to hard-won conservation programs Your call today will come at a very important time when the Senate is back in session.

A quick phone call to your Senator is even more powerful than a letter. Here’s what you do:

Go to Congress.org and type in your zip code. Click on your Senator’s name, and then on the contact tab for their phone number. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard and ask to be directly connected to your Senator’s office: 202-224-3121. 

The message is simple. “I am a constituent of Senator___________ and I am calling to ask him/her to reject H.R. 1, the Continuing Resolution to fund the government for the remainder of fiscal year 2011. H.R. 1 singles out conservation, research, extenstion, and other programs important to sustainable and organic agriculture. It terminates programs that serve beginning and minority farmers without making any cuts to commodity or crop insurance programs. If cuts are to be made then everything must be on the table. Cuts must be fair, equitable and based on the merits of each program. Please defend the popular conservation programs that help ranchers and farmers conserve habitat for endangered species, improve air and water quality, reverse the loss of wetlands and floodplains, and protect soil and farmland.”

This week, the Senate is likely to vote on bills that would cut America’s life-saving clean water programs.

We need your help to defend popular conservation programs that help ranchers and farmers conserve habitat for endangered species, improve air and water quality, reverse the loss of wetlands and floodplains, and protect soil and farmland.

Many of these important conservation programs were cut by the House-passed 2011 spending bill and the fight now moves to the Senate.

In a year of high farm income, the House has focused on cutting programs that protect the environment, increase economic opportunity, serve beginning and minority farmers, and ensure proper nutrition for low-income families. None of the cuts in the House bill are directed at the two the largest federal agricultural spending items — commodity and crop insurance subsidies.

We fought hard to keep the conservation programs in the 2008 Farm Bill. While we lost some efforts, we did succeed in winning $4 billion more for conservation programs that among other things:

  • Restore habitat for endangered species that live on privately owned land;
  • Reverse the loss of wetlands, which not only provide habitat for wildlife, but also help improve water quality throughout entire watershed systems;
  • Protect soil and farmland to provide lasting food security; and
  • Increase opportunities for outdoor recreation, bringing important money and jobs to rural America.
    These new funds for conservation were an important part of the political compromise that allowed the Farm Bill to pass. And they are desperately needed in rural America, where applications for conservation assistance routinely outstrip available funding.

As of last April, there was a backlog of over 1,000,000 acres in unfunded applications from landowners offering to preserve and restore important grassland and wetland habitats. For every rancher, farmer, or forest landowner who received conservation assistance, more than 2 were turned away.

Why would anyone in their right mind cut such popular and successful programs?
But that’s exactly what the House did. Their bill would deny even greater numbers of willing private landowners the support they need to be better stewards of America’s working landscapes.

If Congress wants to get serious about cutting spending, it needs to step back and take a thoughtful approach, rather than singling out the Farm Bill’s conservation programs for disproportional and wasteful cuts.

Please step up for conservation by calling your Senators today urging them to reject these unfair and unwise cuts to important conservation programs.

Thanks for your activism and support,

Shana Udvardy
Director, Flood Management Policy
American Rivers