Press Releases

Hickenlooper, Bennet Request Funding for Farm Bill Conservation Programs in Fiscal Year 2023 Budget

May 6, 2022

Senators Also Ask for $1 Billion to Continue to Increase Conservation Operations, Help Ensure Farmers, Ranchers, & Foresters Can Be Part of the Climate Solution

Washington, D.C.  – Today, U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet joined their colleagues in requesting full funding for Farm Bill Conservation Programs in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 budget. In their letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, the senators also ask for $1 billion to continue to increase U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Operations to help ensure farmers, ranchers, and foresters can be part of the climate solution.

Recognizing the importance of land-based solutions in combating climate change, it is necessary to continue federal investments in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation programs,” wrote Hickenlooper, Bennet, and their colleagues in their letter to Subcommittee Chairwoman Tammy Baldwin and Ranking Member John Hoeven. “We need strong investments in USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) staff and resources to support farmers, ranchers and foresters to help mitigate and adapt to climate change.”

In the recent FY22 omnibus spending bill, the Senate passed $904 million for NRCS Conservation Operations. 

The NRCS staff help implement several Farm Bill conservation programs that are critical to helping farmers, foresters, and ranchers conserve land and water, protect water quality, and improve soil health. As climate change continues to affect communities across the country, strong investments in these programs are necessary to help Colorado’s agriculture community combat its effects. 

The senators continued: “As producers face growing productivity and environmental challenges such as droughts, wildfires, and floods, these programs help build resiliency and support the economic viability of family farms. These programs also help producers implement climate-smart conservation practices and enhance productivity. Maintaining full mandatory funding, as authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill, will keep working farms and ranches productive and benefit the environment.”

In addition to Hickenlooper and Bennet, this letter is signed by U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow, Chris Coons, Tim Kaine, Chris Murphy, Bob Casey, Ben Cardin, Amy Klobuchar, Angus King, Dianne Feinstein, Tom Carper, Cory Booker, Tammy Duckworth, Chris Van Hollen, Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown, Raphael Warnock, Sheldon Whitehouse, Richard Durbin, Jeanne Shaheen, Richard Blumenthal, and Tina Smith.

The text of the letter is available HERE and below.

Dear Chair Baldwin and Ranking Member Hoeven:

Thank you for your work to fully fund Farm Bill conservation programs and increase Conservation Operations in the fiscal year (FY) 2022 omnibus appropriations bill. As your subcommittee considers its FY 2023 appropriations bill, we write to request that you support full mandatory funding for Farm Bill conservation programs and continue to increase Conservation Operations by providing it $1 billion. 

Earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Sixth Assessment Report, which provides an updated global assessment of climate change mitigation progress and pledges, and examines the sources of global emissions. The IPCC report makes clear that land-based mitigation measures in the agriculture, forestry, and other land use sectors represent some of the most important options currently available for large-scale emissions reductions and also removal and storage of carbon dioxide at scale.  

Recognizing the importance of land-based solutions in combating climate change, it is necessary to continue federal investments in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation programs. We need strong investments in USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) staff and resources to support farmers, ranchers and foresters to help mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

NRCS staff help implement a number of Farm Bill conservation programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). These programs are critical to helping farmers, foresters, and ranchers conserve land and water, protect water quality, and improve soil health. As producers face growing productivity and environmental challenges such as droughts, wildfires, and floods, these programs help build resiliency and support the economic viability of family farms. These programs also help producers implement climate-smart conservation practices and enhance productivity. Maintaining full mandatory funding, as authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill, will keep working farms and ranches productive and benefit the environment. 

NRCS field staff are invaluable resources for farmers and ranchers across the country, providing direct technical assistance and planning support for those interested in enrolling in the aforementioned programs. USDA’s ability to deliver conservation programs depends heavily on this on-the-ground technical assistance, or conservation technical assistance (CTA). CTA provides landowners with unique, location-specific solutions so farmers and ranchers can implement conservation practices on their lands, while providing accountability to ensure maximum return on the public investment. It is critical that NRCS offices are well-staffed to best serve our country’s producers and foresters so that we may better mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

Less than adequate funding for technical assistance and staffing would severely limit farmers and ranchers’ abilities to build soil health, protect water quality, create and maintain habitat for threatened, endangered, or economically important fish and wildlife, and prepare for and manage drought and flooding.

Again, we urge you to fully fund Farm Bill conservation programs and increase funding for Conservation Operations to $1 billion so our farmers, ranchers, and foresters can be part of the climate solution. 

Sincerely, 

###

Recent Press Releases

Hickenlooper Hires Carlee Brown to Lead on Water Policy

Washington, D.C. – Today, Senator John Hickenlooper announced that Carlee Brown, formerly of the House Natural Resources Committee and the Colorado Water Conservation Board, is joining his staff to handle water and public lands policy. “We’re ecstatic to welcome...

read more