Well, we no sooner made a post acknowledging the progress that had been made with the U.S. Senate’s passage of the new Farm Bill than we now receive word that the House of Representatives has proposed even further reductions in the conservation program funding elements of the bill.
While we have already acknowledged the fiscal necessity of targeted spending restraint, the additional cuts which have been proposed potentially jeopardize many initiatives which provide economic benefit to the northern Michigan region.
The proposed cuts to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of 20% will undoubtably have serious implications on its many watershed partner programs which in some instances provide the sole funding source for elements of Great Lakes fisheries research and the Fish Passage Program. These USFWS programs have consistently and successfully been leveraged many times over with private and foundation funding for road/stream crossing improvements and river restoration projects throughout northern Michigan.
We urge you to contact your U.S. House of Representatives member and ask that the conservation funding elements of the Senate-approved version be restored.
We should not let the objections many have to the Federal food-aid programs and agricultural subsidies which represent nearly 90% of the bill’s appropriations get in the way of investments which are returned here in northern Michigan many times over. Very simply, these are not entitlement programs but a reinvestment in a very important segment of our local, state and national economy.
According to TRCP, “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service budget would be cut by more than one fifth under the proposal, and the U.S. Geological Survey budget would be reduced by nearly 10 percent. Egregiously, the all-important Land and Water Conservation Fund would be slashed by 80 percent – to levels not seen since 1968.”
Budget reductions in the House bill include the following cuts (from fiscal year 2012 budget):
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service budget cut by $317 million
U.S. Geological Survey budget cut by $101 million
BLM operations and maintenance cut by $39.6 million
North American Wetlands Conservation Act cut by $13 million
EPA budget cut by 17 percent
Land and Water Conservation Fund reduced by 80 percent
For many of us in the northern Michigan area, our Representative is Dr. Dan Benischek. His office can be reached at (202) 225-4735.