Wednesday, May 13, 2009

USDA FY2010 budget would cut land stewardship work

Tue May 12, 2009 6:24pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration would cut nearly $700 million from land stewardship programs at the Agriculture Department, a small-farm and an environmental group said on Tuesday after examining budget proposals.

Ferd Hoefner of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition said the proposals would cut "a very healthy chunk out of the $5 billion increase" provided for stewardship programs in the 2008 farm law.

The Environmental Working Group, which favors more money for stewardship, said the cuts "undermine the administration's goals of reducing global warming, cleaning up waterways and restoring balance and integrity to environmental programs."

In separate statements, the groups listed the proposed cuts as:

-- $250 million from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which helps control field and feedlot runoff.

-- lowering enrollment in the Wetlands Reserve by 138,000 acres, which should save $350 million over the life of the farm law.

-- $43 million from the Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program.

-- $30 million from the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, which helps buy easements to keep land in farms.

-- $5 million from the Agricultural Management Assistance Program.

(Reporting by Charles Abbott; Editing by David Gregorio)

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