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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