TWS submits testimony on agriculture appropriations

By Laura Bies

This 12-acre wetland in Iowa, which provides habitat for migrating waterfowl and other wildlife, was created through the Wetlands Reserve Program, a precursor to the current Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. ©U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Wildlife Society submitted written testimony to the House Interior Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies, asking Congress to increase Fiscal Year 2020 budgets for programs within the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The testimony urged Congress to provide necessary increases to APHIS Wildlife Services’ Wildlife Damage Management Program and Methods Development Program. Wildlife Services works to resolve human-wildlife conflicts and protects agriculture, human and wildlife health and safety, personal property, endangered species, and other natural resources from wildlife damage and wildlife-borne diseases. TWS requested these increases to help two of its key programs keep pace with inflation as they continue to work to reduce human-wildlife conflicts.

TWS also requested increased funding for two National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant programs — the Renewable Resources Extension Act and the McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Program — which provide funding for landowner outreach and natural resources research, respectively.

The Wildlife Society also joined other partners in writing to the leadership of both the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees regarding the FY 2020 agriculture appropriations bills. The coalition of organizations requested lawmakers protect mandatory funding of Farm Bill conservation programs and provide robust discretionary funding for field staff who supply technical assistance for the Farm Bill conservation programs.

The letter stresses the importance of voluntary, incentive-based conservation programs and urges Congress to include in the FY 2020 budget the funding levels authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill for programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and  Conservation Stewardship Program.

The groups also urged Congress to provide at least $890 million for the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Conservation Operations program, including $790 million in critical funding for Conservation Technical Assistance.

Appropriations committees in both the House and Senate are in the process of developing the appropriations bills for FY 2020, which will begin in Oct. 1 2019.

Read TWS’ technical review on Fish and Wildlife Responses to Farm Bill Conservation Practices.

Learn more about TWS’ priorities for the 2018 Farm Bill.

Laura BiesLaura Bies is a government relations contractor and freelance writer for The Wildlife Society. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science and a law degree from George Washington University. Laura has worked with The Wildlife Society since 2005. Read more of Laura's articles.

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