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Will Conservation Once Again Be On The Cutting Board? CONTINUED FROM PAGE 3

Resources Conservation Service Chief Dave White. In California alone, almost 7,000

applications totaling over $126 mil- lion were still waiting for funds at the end of the fiscal year, according to Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) data (See table on page 3). The unmet needs continued with unfunded applications in Okla- homa (over 6,300), Mississippi (4,670), Missouri (4,519), Arkansas (2120) and South Dakota (1,584). These application numbers do not include Technical Assistance (TA)

funds used for salary and other costs associated with program manage- ment. The 2008 Farm Bill authorized

gradually increasing amounts for EQIP funding, starting at $1.2 billion in 2008 and reaching $1.75 billion in 2012. But appropriators have not been fully funding the program, re- sulting in “unused” authorized funds that are often being “chimped” and allocated elsewhere.

(The official

term for this official method of taking funds away from mandatory pro- grams is Change In Mandatory Pro- grams or CHIMP. Capitol Hill

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insiders refer to these raids on mandatory funding as “chimping” or being “chimped.”) Senate Agriculture Committee

Chairman Blanche Lincoln has con- sidered using EQIP to pay for in- creased funding for the child nutrition bill, drawing howls from members of the conservation and en- vironmental community. However, as her staff members point out, the pro- posed cuts of $2.8 billion over 10 years are from an authorized level, not actually from dollars that were going to producers. NACD President Steve Robinson, a

corn, soybean and wheat producer farming 900 acres in Marysville, OH. Says that NACD would like the 2012 Farm Bill to do what the 2008 Farm Bill did – increase conservation fund- ing. His group was encouraged by the administration’s budget proposal to increase USDA’s NRCS Conserva- tion Operations Account from FY 2010's $887.6 million to $923.7 mil- lion for FY 2011. The $923.7 com-

pares with a Senate Appropriations Committee call for $929 million and the $960.7 million NACD would like. However, the administration is pro-

posing cutting the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) by 57,018 acres, cut- ting the Environmental Quality In- centives Program (EQIP) by $380 million, the Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP) by $15 million, Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) by $5 million and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Pro- gram (WHIP) by $12 million. For now, the tug of war continues

in the appropriations process over which programs will get funded and which will get whacked by the budget axe. But pressure will continue to build for making larger and longer- term budget cuts in a wide variety of areas. Despite the $6 billion cut al- ready made in crop insurance, agri- culture will not be exempt.

SARA WYANT: Publisher weekly e- newsletter, Agri Pulse.


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