10:25 PM

Senate farm bill debate produces surprising reform

Key conservation amendment passes, but steep cuts loom

Washington, D.C. — Yesterday, the Senate passed an amendment to the Farm Bill that requires farmers who receive taxpayer-funded crop insurance subsidies to take adequate steps to protect the land and prevent water pollution, a vital conservation measure that helps protect hundreds of thousands of acres of land across the nation. However, the broader bill cuts overall funding for land, water and wildlife conservation by more than 25 percent, with potentially serious consequences.

Below is a statement from Jamie Rappaport Clark, President of Defenders of Wildlife.

“We are extremely pleased with Wednesday's bipartisan vote to link basic conservation measures with taxpayer subsidies for crop insurance in the farm bill.   Requiring modest conservation measures to protect wetlands and grasslands and keep pollution out of America’s rivers and streams is a fair trade in return for the generous taxpayer-funded subsidies that many farmers receive.

“Unfortunately, the Senate bill also eliminates more than 25 percent of funding for wildlife conservation, habitat restoration and projects to protect and improve water quality.  Such deep cuts to conservation are damaging and excessive, particularly so in a bill that simultaneously offers billions in new subsidies to farmers. It also includes very damaging provision that allows for excessive logging on National Forests in the name of controlling beetle outbreaks without the proper scientific reviews to ensure that treatments are effective and that wildlife and water are protected.

“As the House of Representatives begins developing its version of the farm bill, we will work to ensure that chamber does not make the same deep cuts to conservation.  And we will fight to make sure the House also requires farmers who receive subsidies to take appropriate measures to protect our lands, water and wildlife as the Senate bill now does. We simply must find a way to provide a crop insurance safety net for farmers that doesn’t also encourage widespread destruction of wetlands, forests, grasslands and America’s waters.” 

Contact: William Lutz 202-772-0269

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org.