PDF _ RL34178 - Funding Levels for Conservation Programs in the 2007 Farm Bill
1-Jan-2008; Jeffrey Zinn; 18 p.

Update: Previous releases:
November 5, 2007
October 15, 2007

Abstract: Future funding levels for USDA programs, including conservation programs, are among the most contentious issues Congress is addressing in the 2007 farm bill debate. The 110th Congress has adopted a “pay-as-you-go” approach government- wide, so that any increase in mandatory funding in one area has to be offset either by equivalent spending reductions in other programs or by revenue increases. Further constraining farm bill funding is the decline in the baseline from which future agriculture funding is projected because of high market prices, which are lowering projected outlays under the current structure of commodity programs.

In this funding environment, many interests are vigorously defending current levels of support for their programs. Those who are seeking new or additional funding for other topics addressed in the farm bill are finding this challenge to be daunting. A measure of this competition is that a group of almost 2 dozen conservation and environmental groups reportedly wrote to Senators stating that any amount less than the $4.5 billion in additional mandatory funding adopted by the House-passed farm bill would be considered to be inadequate. The competition for increased funding is amplified by the fact that it involves not only conservation, which is discussed in this report, but also specialty crops, energy, and other areas.

Under the House-passed version of the farm bill (H.R. 2419), spending for conservation programs would remain at current levels or increase from the FY2007 authorized level, with one notable exception. This exception is the Conservation Security Program, where funding for additional enrollment would be suspended until FY2012. The largest increases would occur in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program by a total of about $2.0 billion between FY2008 and FY2012), the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (by a total of $510 million), and the Grasslands Reserve Program (by a total of $430 million). The Congressional Budget Office, in an analysis dated October 9, concludes that conservation would grow by $4.52 billion by the end of FY2012 for mandatory funding, and an additional $1.25 billion in discretionary funding would also be authorized for this time period. Some supporters of conservation complain that the overall rate and amount of growth of conservation spending in H.R. 2419 would be insufficient or that additional enrollment into the Conservation Security Program should be funded before FY2012.

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Topics: Agriculture, Government, General

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