Some bad news came in from Washington yesterday, but there’s a silver lining…
The Senate voted 67-31 to proceed with a vote to pass the 6-month Continuing Resolution that the House passed last week, extending 2012 funding levels until March 27, 2013. The actual vote will take place in the next few days and is expected to pass.
Why is this bad news? Well, it hurts a lot of the conservation programs that we think are beneficial to American farming. By maintaining 2012 levels, it means that the USDA won’t be able to enroll the 12.8 million acres into the Conservation Stewardship Program mandated by the 2008 Farm Bill. It also diminishes funding for other conservation programs. Taking away those programs’ ability to enroll new acreage is potentially a longer-term problem, since limitations now will have multi-year effects on actual conservation.
The silver lining, though, is that we still have the lame-duck session to pass something better that can fix these mistakes. Further, we still have the opportunity to push for better rules and funding to support beginning farmers. Either in the lame-duck session or early next year, these concerns that are being pushed off temporarily are going to come to the forefront.
We need to build a wave of energy right now if we’re going to have any effect. If you haven’t signed the petition supporting the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program – the more important USDA program for educating the next generation of American farmers and ranchers – please do so now! If you have, please spread the word to friends, family, and fellow farmers. We need to raise a ruckus now!