NACD statement on House passage of omnibus bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NACD statement on House passage of omnibus bill

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2014 — The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) is pleased that the U.S. House of Representatives has passed an Omnibus Bill that would avoid a government shutdown and increase funds for several vital conservation programs. However, NACD is concerned about increased cuts to already lean Farm Bill conservation programs.

The bill passed last night by the U.S. House of Representatives would increase funding for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Conservation Operations account. Conservation Operations—which remains a high priority for NACD members—provides critical funding to ensure farmers, ranchers and forest landowners have the technical assistance they need to implement voluntary conservation practices for cleaner water and air and improved wildlife habitat. It would also increase funds for the Forest Service State and Private Forestry program as well as maintain funds for the Environmental Protection Agency’s 319 Nonpoint Source Grants.

Additionally, the bill would remove the Clean Water Act’s (CWA) Waters of the U.S. Interpretive Rule (IR) and re-emphasize CWA agricultural exemptions.

Unfortunately, the bill also calls for additional cuts to mandatory Farm Bill conservation programs, including $650 million in cuts to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

“We’re extremely concerned that Congress continues to cut from critical Farm Bill conservation programs,” said NACD President Earl Garber. “The 2014 Farm Bill already produced billions of dollars in savings, yet Congress continues to make cuts to important programs like CSP and EQIP. At a time when farmers and ranchers are facing increased pressure to produce food and fiber for a growing population, it’s extremely important that they have full access to the tools and resources they need to implement voluntary conservation practices on their land. Further cuts to vital conservation program funding will hinder the implementation of voluntary, locally-led conservation on the ground, putting our land and resources at risk for the future.”

Despite these cuts, NACD is urging the Senate to pass the bill and avoid a government shutdown.

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The National Association of Conservation Districts is the non-profit organization that represents the nation’s 3,000 conservation districts, their state associations and the 17,000 men and women who serve on their governing boards. For more than 70 years, local conservation districts have worked with cooperating landowners and managers of private working lands to help them plan and apply effective conservation practices. For more information about NACD, visit: www.nacdnet.org.

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