Senator Tom Harkin is accusing President Bush and some of his fellow Republicans of being two-faced because they touted a new conservation program for farmers, but are taking steps behind the scenes to scuttle it. Harkin says “apparently in the Bush Administration, just because Congress passes a good law, the President praises it and the President signs it doesn’t necessarily mean it gets carried out.”Harkin says the Conservation Security Program is the major new conservation initiative in the 2002 Farm Bill. It provides incentives to farmers who voluntarily take steps to protect natural resources. Harkin says Iowa farmers frequently ask him when they can sign up for the program. Harkin says the program’s rules were due last February, then the Ag Secretary promised Harkin they’d be done September 30th, but the rules are still bottled up in the President’s Office of Management and the Budget. Harkin says President Bush specifically praised the Farm Bill’s strong conservation programs when he signed the legislation in May of 2002. Harkin says the President’s promise of more conservation initiatives for farmers is turning sour, especially since Republicans in the House are trying to completely eliminate the program in the next fiscal year. Republican Congressman Steve King penned a letter yesterday in support of the Conservation Security Program, and fellow Iowa Congressmen Jim Leach and Leonard Boswell co-signed it. The Senate has voted to provide 53 million dollars for the Conservation Security Program. That accounts for about two percent of the Ag Budget. The House has voted to provide no money for the program. The differences will be ironed out in a conference committee made up of members of the House and Senate.
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