WASHINGTON, D.C. - The President's FY 2012 budget calls for deep cuts to farm bill mandatory spending for farm conservation with over $1 billion in permanent rescissions. As in their FY 2011 budget request, the big three programs targeted for reductions are the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).

We believe these reductions are irresponsible and unfair. Natural resource and environmental needs related to agriculture are great and farmer demand for these programs continues to outstrip the supply of dollars. No other farm bill mandatory funding accounts were similarly targeted.

In our view, either everything should be on the table or nothing should be. Appropriations bills, moreover, are not the right vehicle to consider cuts to the farm bill. That should be a matter for the Agriculture Committee to consider as part of a comprehensive review of the need for and effectiveness of all farm bill programs. Chopping out over $1 billion in farm bill resources before that debate even begins will make it far more difficult to reach agreement on a fair and fiscally responsible farm bill deal.

The President's budget does propose once again to reduce commodity program payment limitations, but unlike the proposed conservation cuts, this proposal is not included in the President's proposed FY 2012 appropriations bill language.

We support the thrust of the President's proposed cut to the per-farm cap for commodity program direct payments from $80,000 a year to $60,000 a year for a married couple. In the face of high commodity prices and an overinflated land market, though, we think Congress should go further by reducing the limit to $40,000 and making the payments and the limit on payments more responsive to economic need.

SOURCE: National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition