The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Don Carr, EWG, (202) 939-9141

Congress Poised to Cut Conservation Funds That Aided Farm Bill's Passage

More Than 40,000 Farmers Denied Funds to Reduce Pollution From Their Farms


September 9, 2008. Behind the thin green gloss Congressional leaders
spread across the subsidy-laden 2008 farm bill, the Democratic Congress
is now hacking away at pledges to expand conservation and other
environmental programs. Data analyzed by the Environmental Working
Group show that Congress is trying to roll back funding increases in
critical conservation and environmental programs, funding pledged in
the farm law passed just weeks ago.

Today, Craig Cox, EWG Midwest Vice-President, released the report: Congress Poised to Cut Conservation Funds that Aided Farm Bill's Passage, from EWG's new Midwest office in Ames, IA.

When the farm bill became law on June 18, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
boasted that it would represent "historic new investments" in programs
to protect water quality and wildlife. Those investments helped mute
the opposition of many in Congress and some interest groups, who
objected to the bill's continuation of hefty subsidies to large,
wealthy farm operators now earning record incomes in the ongoing
commodity boom.

But within weeks of the farm bill's passage, the Senate
appropriations committee sent to the Senate floor a spending bill
(S.3289) that would slash conservation measures by $331 million in
fiscal year 2009.

Commodity subsidies that provide billions to the richest farmers each year remained untouched.

For every $10,000 in crop subsidies Congress sends to the most
heavily polluting counties in the Corn Belt, just one dollar is spent
on conservation. In the 124 counties that cause 40% of spring nitrate
fertilizer pollution, the ratio between subsidies and conservation
spending is 500 to one.

"With cuts like this year after year, it's no wonder that
agriculture is the number one source of water pollution in the nation.
Democrats in Congress are using bait and switch tactics with
conservation funding. This practice mirrors a longstanding Republican
tradition of broken promises where pledges to increase money for
environmental programs are followed by systematic and dramatic cuts
that have left conservation programs billions short over the past
decade," said Craig Cox, EWG Midwest Vice-President.

Go to for the full report.

The Environmental Working Group is a community 30 million strong, working to protect our environmental health by changing industry standards.

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