Washington, DC, April 2, 2019 – Having succeeded in protecting funding
for the Conservation Title in the 2018 Farm Bill, more than 140 leading farm, conservation,
and wildlife groups are once again joining together to protect those
hard-fought conservation funds and programs in the fiscal year (FY) 2020
appropriations process.

In
a letter delivered today,
the groups, which include the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
(NSAC), National Farmers Union (NFU), National Association of Conservation
Districts (NACD), National Wildlife Federation (NWF), and American Farmland
Trust (AFT), called upon appropriators to respect the funding decisions made in
the 2018 Farm Bill and reject any cuts to farm bill conservation funding
through the appropriations process.

Farm
bill conservation programs, including the Conservation Stewardship Program
(CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Regional Conservation
Partnership Program (RCPP), and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program
(ACEP), play a vital role in helping farmers, ranchers, and landowners to keep
their lands sustainable and profitable for generations to come.

“America’s farmers and ranchers worked hard to ensure that
the 2018 Farm Bill included support for the conservation programs they rely
upon,” said Alyssa Charney, NSAC Senior Policy Specialist. “The Agriculture
Committees listened when farmers told them what they needed to thrive, and now
we are asking congressional appropriators to do the same. The farm bill process
is closed; appropriators should seek to build upon the foundation laid by the
2018 Farm Bill, not attempt to undercut it. Appropriators have protected these
programs in their last two funding bills, and we now ask them to continue to do
so in FY 2020.”

“As
America’s farm and ranch families endure significant environmental and economic
challenges, it is as important as ever that we maintain funding for voluntary,
incentive-based conservation programs,” said Roger Johnson, President, NFU.
“Congress just last year passed a farm bill with strong provisions and
mandatory funding for conservation programs. Appropriators should reject
changes that were settled in the process of crafting the Farm Bill and provide
adequate funding to NRCS staff to fulfill their important role in ensuring the
sustainability of family farms across the country.”

“Farm Bill conservation programs are critical
to addressing America’s wildlife crisis,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO
of the National Wildlife Federation. “We call on lawmakers to reject any
efforts to cut mandatory funding for Farm Bill conservation programs. These
effective and widely supported programs give farmers and ranchers the tools
they need to voluntarily restore important habitat for wildlife across
America’s working lands and proactively recover at-risk wildlife populations.”

In their letter, the 146 organizations also
urged appropriators to protect funding for conservation technical assistance.

“Ensuring
full funding of CTA and farm bill programs will continue to allow conservation
districts to work hand-in-hand with NRCS at the local level to deliver
conservation on America’s landscapes,” NACD President Tim Palmer said. “Farm
bill conservation programs are essential to our nation’s producers, as well as
the consumers of their products. We urge Congress to protect and sustain
conservation funding to allow our producers to continue providing a safe,
reliable food supply while emphasizing locally-led conservation solutions to
improve the quality of our nation’s soil, water and natural resources.”

The wide range of organizations signed on to
the letter speaks to how significantly any cuts to conservation programs and
technical assistance would be felt across the country.

“Farm Bill conservation programs are critical to the efforts of
farmers and ranchers across this country to voluntarily protect their land from
development and implement environmentally sound farming practices,” said John
Piotti, President & CEO of American Farmland Trust. “At a time when we are
losing three acres of farmland per minute, it is absolutely necessary to save
every last dollar for these programs and serve as many farmers and ranchers as
possible.”

AFT, NACD, NFU, NSAC, and NWF stand united
with the more than 140 co-signed organizations in urging appropriators to
protect funding for critical conservation programs and technical assistance in
FY 2020.

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About American Farmland Trust (AFT):

American Farmland Trust is the only national
organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the
land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and
ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement
and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms, No Food message.
Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.5 million
acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally sound farming practices
on millions of additional acres, and supported thousands of farm families.

About the
National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD):

The National Association of Conservation
Districts is the nonprofit organization that represents the nation’s 3,000
conservation districts, their state and territory associations, and the 17,000
men and women who serve on their governing boards. For more than 70 years,
local conservation districts have worked with cooperating landowners and
managers of private working lands to help them plan and apply effective
conservation practices. For more information about NACD, visit: www.nacdnet.org.

About National Farmers Union (NFU):

National
Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and
their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their
communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social
justice.

About the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC):
The National
Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that advocates for
federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and
environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural
communities. Learn more and get involved at: http://sustainableagriculture.net

About the National Wildlife Federation (NFW):

The National Wildlife Federation is
America’s largest conservation organization, representing six million
members and affiliate conservation organizations in 51 states and territories.
The National Wildlife Federation works to unite all Americans to ensure
wildlife thrive in a rapidly changing world. Learn more: http://nwf.org/.