WASHINGTON, May 23, 2017 – The National Association of Conservation Districts calls on Congress to reject President Donald Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget request that includes reckless cuts to every part of USDA, as well as many other federal programs that support voluntary conservation across the country.
The president’s budget requests more than $5 billion in cuts over 10 years to farm bill conservation programs. In FY18, the budget request includes a substantial $350 million cut to mandatory funding for the popular Environmental Quality Incentives Program, it would also cut $91 million from USDA’s Conservation Technical Assistance program – the very lifeblood of voluntary conservation in the United States.
In its budget, the White House says “(a)gricultural conservation planning is not an inherently governmental function,” that the “private sector can provide this service,” and that “(w)hen the Government funds technical assistance, it crowds out private sector competition.”
“We are very concerned that the president’s budget calls for privatizing conservation planning,” NACD President Brent Van Dyke said. “The need for conservation assistance is so immense across the country, it will take every dollar from both the public and the private sectors to get the job done.”
The president has requested to cut the Forest Service’s State and Private Forestry program by 46 percent ($98 million) and completely eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency’s Section 319 grant program, which helps states curb non-point pollution sources like stormwater runoff. The budget would also eliminate the Watershed Operations and Small Watershed Rehabilitation programs, which help local communities improve water quality, control erosion, and restore ailing infrastructure.
“We can provide a better approach to conservation than this budget proposal,” NACD CEO Jeremy Peters said. “NACD will work tirelessly to educate our lawmakers on Capitol Hill about the critical importance of locally-led conservation, so come fall, they’ll do what’s right by American taxpayers and our country’s natural resources.”
The president’s FY18 budget request also includes a budget-related proposal to eliminate the Regional Conservation Partnership Program and enrollment of new acres in the Conservation Stewardship Program. This proposal also recommends suspending new general sign-up acres in the Conservation Reserve Program through 2020. NACD believes this proposal would severely limit voluntary conservation on the ground, and for this reason, finds it unacceptable.
The National Association of Conservation Districts is the non-profit organization that represents the nation’s 3,000 conservation districts, their state associations and the 17,000 men and women who serve on their governing boards. For more than 70 years, local conservation districts have worked with cooperating landowners and managers of private working lands to help them plan and apply effective conservation practices. For more information about NACD, visit: www.nacdnet.org