WESTERN AG APPLAUDS SENATE PROGRESS ON FARM BILL
"The Western Agriculture and Conservation Coalition congratulates Chairwoman Stabenow, Ranking Member Roberts and the entire Senate Agriculture Committee on the overwhelming vote yesterday to move forward with substantive consideration of the Farm Bill. Our coalition strongly supports the need for passage of a Farm Bill this year with a strong conservation title. The Senate vote of 90-8 to proceed with consideration is an important step to achieving this goal.
"We believe the future of a viable rural west turns on partnerships between farmers and ranchers and serious conservation groups who want to work together for the economic sustainability of farm and ranch operations and the environmental sustainability of resources for fish, water quality and quantity, habitat and the many other benefits provided by the great outdoors in the West. Farm Bill conservation programs are an important tool for catalyzing these partnerships. For this reason, we are pleased with today's vote and urge the Senate to complete consideration and support final passage of the bill at the earliest possible date.
"In particular, we are pleased with the Committee proposal for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program which will harness the useful tools of several of the bill's working lands and easement programs to benefit watershed and landscape-scale projects across the nation. Such projects will save water, improve water quality and restore trout and salmon habitat. We also like the reauthorization of the vital Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and its incorporation of the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program.
"EQIP is the touchstone program used by growers and ranchers to manage resources on their operations. The importance of the program was recognized by the Committee in the funding it provided. We also appreciate that the Committee recognized the importance of preserving working lands in the West in the new Agricultural Land Easement program."