Environmental Defense Praises New Lugar, Bush Administration Farm Bill Position

On October 18th, Environmental Defense praised Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) and the

Bush administration for supporting a major increase in U.S. Department of

Agriculture (USDA) conservation spending.

The national environmental group also praised Lugar, ranking Republican on the

Senate Agricultural Committee, and the administration for proposing farm

subsidy reforms that would reduce incentives to convert wetlands and other

environmentally sensitive areas to corn, soybean, or other row crop production.

“Farm policy should help all farmers and all regions, including Midwestern grain

farmers, and reward farmers when they help the environment. Senator Lugar’s

bold proposal reflects these principles and we look forward to these ideas being

incorporated into farm legislation as it moves through the Senate,” said

Environmental Defense senior attorney Timothy Searchinger.

According to Searchinger, only 30% of farmers are currently eligible for federal

subsidies, and large producers collect most of these payments. By contrast,

under the new Lugar proposal all U.S. farmers are eligible for conservation

payments and other assistance.

“Revamping subsidy programs to discourage the production of huge crop

surpluses and the conversion of environmentally sensitive lands is a courageous

step for which Senator Lugar deserves a great deal of credit,” Searchinger said.

“We hope that Senator Lugar will be able to work together with Senate

Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA), who has championed

USDA conservation programs and has pledged to make conservation the

centerpiece of the next Farm Bill.”

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