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NFC: Fw: Ag Conservation Sign on letter to MN Senators -- Deadline 11/7/01

Robert Rice
NFC president

--------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Suzy Friedman <sfriedman at environmentaldefense_org>
To: robertrice at juno_com
Date: Sat, 03 Nov 2001 16:24:23 -0500
Subject: Ag Conservation Sign on letter to MN Senators -- Deadline
< at mail_privatelandstewardship.org>


As you may already know, the Senate is moving quickly to pass a Farm Bill

this year. With a very anti-environmental and regionally inequitable Farm

Bill approved by the House, it is imperative that the Senate Farm Bill
conservation a priority and ensure that federal farm programs help all 
kinds of farmers in all regions of the nation.

Please consider adding your organization's name the below organizational 
sign on letter to Minnesota Senators Dayton and Wellstone. The letter
them to make sure that the Senate Farm Bill provides sufficient water 
quality and wildlife habitat incentives, insufficient open space 
preservation funds, and ensures that farm programs are regionally 
equitable. Conveying this message to Dayton and Wellstone is especially 
critical because Senator Harkin's farm bill, while heading in the right 
direction, does not go far enough to meet current and expected future 
demands for USDA conservation programs of great importance to Minnesota
states around the nation.
Please respond to me at sfriedman at environmentaldefense_org or
x176 if you would like to sign on.
DEADLINE: 9am Central Time Wednesday, November 7.

For more information about the House Farm Bill and the Senate proposals, 



Suzy Friedman
Environmental Defense
Washington, DC


Dear Senator Wellstone and Senator Dayton:

We urge you to support Minnesota's family farms and rural economies by 
increasing annual funding for voluntary incentive-based conservation 
programs that fairly distribute federal farm spending among all farmers
regions.  The next farm bill should provide adequate incentives for
to improve water quality, create wildlife habitat, and protect open
A Farm Bill funded at $17.1 billion per year should meet the needs of all

farmers, all regions, and the environment.

We applaud Senator Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin for
sufficient funds to restore annually 250,000 acres of wetlands in his
bill proposal. However, we believe Senator Harkin's farm bill
title proposal provides insufficient water quality and wildlife habitat 
incentives, insufficient open space preservation funds, and fails to
that farm programs are regionally equitable. We would like to work with
and your staff to address these concerns.

For example, the Harkin proposal  would provide only $725 million in
average spending for water quality incentives under EQIP, and only $75 
million in average annual spending for wildlife habitat incentives - far 
less than expected farmer demand.  Today, due to lack of funding, most 
farmers are rejected when they apply for USDA conservation programs, 
including 70 percent of farmers seeking water quality grants and more
500,000 farmers offering to restore lost wetlands. Farmers in Minnesota 
seeking USDA assistance to help the environment currently face a $57 
million conservation backlog.
We remain concerned that commodity programs proposed by Senator Harkin 
provide incentives for farmers to convert environmentally sensitive land 
into cropland.  The Bush Administration heavily criticized H.R. 2646 for 
its failure to reform farm programs and correct these misguided 
incentives.  The Administration supports emphasizing conservation
that would help those smaller farmers and ranchers most in need of 
assistance.   Though better than H.R. 2646, the Harkin proposal falls
of making conservation the centerpiece of the next Farm Bill. In fact,
Harkin proposal would not provide more cumulative conservation spending 
than the House farm bill for fiscal years 2002 through 2006 -- the years 
covered by the proposal. The last Farm Bill dedicated 30 percent of farm 
spending to conservation programs, but the Harkin proposal would spend
than 20 percent of USDA funds to reward farmers who help the 
environment.  Farmers are willing to do their part to help the
but we need to provide farmers with adequate tools and incentives to do
We urge you to reform federal farm programs to benefit working lands and 
help all farmers, all regions, and the environment.   Unless we encourage

farmers to meet our environmental challenges, one third of our rivers and

lakes will remain polluted, hundreds of species will creep closer to 
extinction, and millions of acre of open space will be lost forever.  We 
look forward to working with you and your staff to develop a new Farm
that demonstrates your strong support for our nation's farmers and
natural resources.



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