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Budget proposal would benefit agriculture wildlife programs
Under the U.S. administration’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2022, the Department of Agriculture would see a 16% increase in funding.
The U.S. Forest Service’s forest and rangeland research program would receive $314 million under the budget proposal, an increase of $55 million from the FY 2021 funding levels. The Wildlife Society recommended funding of $330 million for this program. The wildlife and fisheries habitat management program within the National Forest System would receive $36.7 million.
Within the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services’ Wildlife Damage Management program would receive $113 million under the proposal, up slightly from $112 million in FY 2021. Wildlife Damage Management provides cooperators frontline assistance to help resolve human-wildlife conflicts and protect wildlife, agriculture, and human health and safety from wildlife damage and zoonotic diseases. Also within Wildlife Services, the Wildlife Methods program would receive $24 million. This program funds the vitally important National Wildlife Research Center, which provides tools that the Wildlife Service’s Damage Management program and federal, state and local partners need to deter human-wildlife conflict in the field setting. The Wildlife Service’s Methods Development program also helps deliver successful Damage Management projects by first undertaking a careful assessment of the problem, including effects on people, the community and wildlife. The Wildlife Society recommended funding of $114 million and $24 million for these programs, respectively.
Within the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the Renewable Resources Extension Act would receive stable funding under the proposal, at $4 million. The Wildlife Society recommended funding the RREA, which provides resources to state extension programs that share with landowners and land managers the latest management tools applicable to forest and rangeland resources, at $10 million. The McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Program would see an increase, from $36 million to $46 million, surpassing the $41 million recommended by The Wildlife Society. This program provides grants to support forestry research, to train future forestry scientists and involve other disciplines in forestry research.
The budget proposal also includes funding for Farm Bill conservation programs, such as $2.3 billion for the Conservation Reserve Program, which provides financial and technical assistance to farmers who improve environmental quality by replacing crops with plantings on environmentally sensitive land. The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, which provides easements that protect both working land and wetlands, would receive stable funding at $450 million.
The proposal also includes $886 million for Private Lands Conservation Operations as administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, including Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA). The CTA program provides landowners with site-specific solutions needed to implement conservation programs, while also providing for public accountability to ensure funds are spent as intended. The Wildlife Society recommended funding for conservation operations at $890 million.
Appropriations committees in both the House and Senate are in the process of developing the appropriations bills for FY 2022, which will begin Oct. 1, 2021. While those committees may consider the administration’s budget proposal during that process, they are not obligated to follow it.