Iowa Senator Tom Harkin is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to amend its rules that limit the funding to conservation plan that was passed in the 2002 Ag bill. Harkin says the recently passed Congressional budget bill included full funding for the Conservation Security Program (C-S-P) — but the rules need to be changed.Harkin says if the proposed rules stand, farmers and ranchers all over America will lose billions of dollars for conservation efforts, and the C-S-P will operate in only a few watersheds. Harkin says all Americans will lose the benefits of soil, conservation, cleaner air and water, energy conservation and enhanced wildlife habitat. Harkin says the passage of the funding bill opens the way for U-S-D-A to revise its rules. Harkin says anything U-S-D-A issues now should not be just an extension of the program, he says it should be a true revision to “remove the arbitrary spending cap” and restore spending as it was enacted in the farm bill. Harkin says Ag Secretary Ann Venemenn tells him the Office of Management and Budget is putting pressure on her to not remove the spending cap.Harkin says O-M-B wants to cut spending and is going after agriculture. Harkin says “time and time and time again this administration wants to cut agriculture.” Harkin says the president made a big deal when he signed the farm bill about supporting conservation, so he says we’ll have to see if that holds true. Harkin says the rules revision will have to come sometime by March.
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