On June 20, the Senate rejected the Administration’s rescissions package – an attempt to cut billions of much-needed dollars from vital programs, including farm bill programs – by a vote of 48-50. The House had already passed it on a party line vote, meaning that had the rescissions package made it through this initial procedural vote and been passed by the Senate, it would have undermined efforts to help American family farmers to tap new markets, grow rural jobs, and conserve soil, water, and other resources on their land.
Fortunately, the Senate procedural vote to consider the rescissions packaged failed – with all Democrats voting against, and two Republicans, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), joining Democrats to prevent the bill from moving forward. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) thanks these Senators for standing up against this attempt to raid already inadequate funding pools for programs that support farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.
NSAC has opposed the rescissions package since it was first released by the Administration, and despite the slight modifications that have since been made to the original proposal, we remain stalwart in our defense of critical farm bill funding. The rescissions package targets many of the farm bill’s most popular and integral programs – including the Value Added Producer Grant Program (VAPG), Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – and if passed would be bad news for American agriculture. The bill’s defeat in the Senate is a win for NSAC, our member organizations, and farmers and rural communities across the country. We were one of the very few groups opposing the bill based on its impact on agricultural programs.
As we’ve previously reported, the farm bill programs that were slated for cuts are far from “unnecessary,” as the name of the rescissions bill (“Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act”) attempted to imply. Had the bill been passed into law, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service would have been able to fund significantly less conservation cost share and easement projects, and USDA would have been forced to halt the funding process for rural entrepreneurship support through VAPG.
The proposal was a direct attack on much needed farm bill funding, and its defeat came just in time – the week before the Senate is set to consider their draft farm bill, which passed out of Committee and is now headed to a vote on the floor. As Congress works to reauthorize the next farm bill, it is absolutely essential to reject any outside attempts to undermine this process and rescind critical funds.
NSAC thanks members of the Senate for standing up to defend farm bill funding, and we will continue to advocate for the protection of programs that provide essential support to American family farmers and our shared natural resources as the 2018 Farm Bill process moves forward.
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