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[ft-l] Farm Bill fight moves to Senate -- Please call Sen. Graham and Nelson!



FYI below.  An action alert concerning the Farm bill which could provide
funding for conservation easements.  I am not sure if this bill would
assist our efforts to protect the FNST on private lands, but the more
agricultural land that is conserved the better.

Kent
**************************************************************************************************

Kent L. Wimmer, AICP
Florida National Scenic Trail Liaison
Florida Trail Association, Inc.
kwimmer@fs.fed.us
(850) 942-9376 (w)
(850) 942-9378 (fax)
(850) 386-8442 (h)
Mailing address:
USDA Forest Service
National Forests in Florida
325 John Knox Rd, F-100
Tallahassee, FL 32303-4160
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----- Forwarded by Kent Wimmer/NONFS/USDAFS on 10/16/2001 04:09 PM -----
                                                                                                                                
                    Suzy Friedman                                                                                               
                    <sfriedman@environmentalde        To:     kwimmer@fs.fed.us                                                 
                    fense.org>                        cc:                                                                       
                                                      Subject:     Farm Bill fight moves to Senate -- Please call Sen. Graham   
                    10/15/2001 05:30 PM               and  Nelson!                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                





Kent --

Although we have barely caught our breath after the fight in the House to
increase conservation funding in the Farm Bill, things are already heating
up in the Senate. Hearings could begin as early as this week.

On October 5, the House of Representatives approved a very
anti-environmental, regionally inequitable Farm Bill that favors the very
largest farms. With this bad bill in the House, the need is even greater to

ensure that the Senate version of the Farm Bill places a priority on
regional equity and conservation by including $5.4 billion a year for
conservation programs that reward farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners
who preserve open space, improve water quality, protect public health, and
create wildlife habitat.
Strong support from Florida Senators Graham and Nelson is ESSENTIAL! We
need them to be PROACTIVE in advocating for a conservation-oriented,
regionally-equitable Farm Bill that complies with world trade agreements.
Support for such a bill in the House was very strong-- 200 Representatives
voted in support of shifting $5.4 billion a year into conservation programs

in the House Farm Bill. Despite this strong support, the House effort
failed, so we NEED the Senate to get the job done.

Please call or fax Senators Graham and Nelson TODAY urging them 1) to sign
Senator Leahy's Dear Colleague Letter on Agriculture Conservation (pasted
in below) and 2) communicate to Senators Harkin and Lugar and others the
vital importance for Florida and all states of including $5.4 billion a
year for conservation and provisions ensuring regional equity in the Senate

Farm Bill. The deadline for Senators to sign on to the Leahy letter is
Tuesday, October 16 (although we hope this deadline will be extended).

While farmers in some states receive as much as 27 cents back from the
federal government in direct farm payments for every dollar of farm produce

they generate, Florida receives only ONE PENNY. The need in Florida for
increased funding for agriculture conservation programs is great. In FY'01
alone, Florida had an unmet need for more than $72 11 million in USDA
conservation funding, including more than $34.6 million in unmet requests
from farmers to reduce polluted runoff and to protect water quality.
Florida also has a cumulative backlog of almost $19 million in requests for

federal farmland protection funding to preserve agricultural lands and curb

sprawling development. And without shifting funding from commodity crop
programs into conservation programs, we are in danger of violating world
trade agreements on subsidies.

See below for a sample letter, talking points for calls, and a copy of the
Leahy letter.

Phone and Fax Numbers:
Sen. Graham: Staffer -- Kasey Gillette; DC Phone: 202-224-3041; DC Fax:
202-224-2237
Sen. Nelson: Staffer -- Bridgette; DC Phone: 202-224-5274; DC Fax:
202-228-2183

THANKS!!! Your help is greatly appreciated and much needed. I would also
really appreciate it if you could let me know if you are able to make some
calls or send a fax and any feedback from Senate offices you have.

Suzy

Suzy Friedman
Agriculture Policy Analyst
Environmental Defense
1875 Connecticut Ave., NW, #1016
Washington, DC 20009
202-387-3500 x176 (v), 202-234-6049 (f)
sfriedman@environmentaldefense.org
Check out our Agriculture Reform Campaign Website at
www.environmentaldefense.org/programs/Ecosystems/AgriReform.html


For more information on the House Farm Bill, visit
http://www.environmentaldefense.org/programs/Ecosystems/AgriReform/HR2646.html

Talking Points for Calls to Senators
 With a House Farm Bill (HR 2646) that is anti-environmental, regionally
inequitable, and slanted in favor of the nation's largest farms, it is
imperative that the Senate Farm Bill that is conservation oriented, fair to

all states, and meets the needs and challenges facing all farmers today and

in the future.  Under the House Farm Bill, federal farm spending would
leave almost 60 percent of our nation's farmers and ranchers without
support, while sending almost half of federal agricultural payments to a
mere 8 percent of our nation's producers. If signed into law, Florida will
continue to be denied its fair share of federal farm dollars, despite the
importance of the state's agriculture.
 Instead, the Senate Farm Bill must ensure that funds are spread more
equitably to promote trade, conservation efforts, rural development, and
environmental protection.
 Please be a leader for our state and its environment, farmers, and
communities by signing onto Senator Leahy's Dear Colleague letter and
urging other Senators to stand strong for increased conservation funding in

the Farm Bill.
 Senator Leahy's letter calls for a Senate Farm Bill to include $750
million a year for specialty crops in the commodity title, a $5.4 billion
conservation title, and Conservation Security Act payments in the commodity

title that will ensure regional equity of payments through state
allocations based on the agriculture market value.
For more talking points on agriculture conservation, visit
http://www.environmentaldefense.org/programs/Ecosystem/AgriReform/BKGDsupport.html


For more information about Environmental Defense's efforts to reform
agricultural practices, visit:
http://www.environmentaldefense.org/programs/Ecosystems/AgriReform/
Questions? Contact Suzy Friedman, Agriculture Policy Analyst and Organizer,

at sfriedman@environmentaldefense.org
Sample Letter
Dear Senator,
I urge you to help reward farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who want

to help meet our environmental challenges and to ensure that the Farm Bill
supports all Florida's farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners by signing
Senator Leahy's Dear Colleague calling for increased funding for
agriculture conservation in the Senate Farm Bill.  With passage of a House
Farm Bill (H.R. 2646) last week, I am very concerned about the direction
some in Congress would take long-term agriculture policy in our
nation.  The House Farm Bill falls far short of the laudable agriculture
policy goals that Senators Harkin and Lugar, the Bush Administration, and
the 200 Representatives who supported the Boehlert-Kind Conservation
Amendment have called for -- a conservation-oriented and
regionally-equitable Farm Bill that will be in compliance with world trade
agreements. Shifting farm subsidies to conservation is vitally important to

Florida because it would make all kinds of farmers, ranchers, and forest
landowners eligible to participate; ensure greater regional equity; help
resolve many major environmental challenges; and make better use of
taxpayer dollars.
Boosting annual funding for voluntary incentive-based conservation programs

not only would help protect Florida's environment, but also would
contribute to farm and ranch income, help ease regulatory burdens, reduce
water treatment costs, and ensure that all farmers -- including those of
our state -- are eligible for federal assistance.
Unless we reward farmers when they meet our environmental challenges,
one-third of our rivers and lakes will remain polluted, hundreds of species

will creep closer to extinction, and millions of acres of open space will
be lost forever.
I urge you to sign Senator Leahy's Dear Colleague letter calling for
increased funding for agriculture conservation programs in the Senate Farm
Bill to help the rural and urban environments, agricultural communities,
and public health of Florida and states around the country.
Sincerely,
***************************************************************************************

October XX, 2001
The Honorable Tom Harkin                                The Honorable
Richard Lugar
Chairman                                                Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Agriculture,                        Senate Committee on

Agriculture,
Nutrition, and Forestry                         Nutrition, and Forestry
United States Senate                                    United States
Senate
Washington, D.C.  20510                         Washington, D.C.  20510
Dear Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Lugar:
With passage of a House Farm Bill (H.R. 2646) last week, we are
increasingly concerned about the direction some in Congress would take
long-term agriculture policy in our nation.  In particular, we believe that

H.R. 2646 fell far short of the laudable agriculture policy goals that both

of you, and the Bush Administration, have outlined for a national,
regionally equitable Farm Bill that meets the needs and challenges facing
all farmers today and in the future. This Farm Bill is our best opportunity

to write a Farm Bill for all of our farmers, not just those who have
benefited from farm policies of the past.
Clearly, the Bush Administration believes H.R. 2646 missed this opportunity

and their opposition outlined in the October 4, 2001, Statement of
Administration Policy challenges us to do better.   This SAP followed the
Administration's recently-released report, "Food and Agriculture Policy --
Taking Stock for the New Century," noting that the bulk of current farm
spending -- spending that would be continued and increased in H.R. 2646 --
leaves almost 60 percent of our nation's farmers and ranchers without
support while sending almost half of federal agricultural payments to a
mere 8 percent of our nation's producers.  The Administration also made
clear that current farm policy is hurting, not helping, our small, rural
farms and does little to promote, or serve, the regional diversity of
agricultural producers in our country.  We must not lock in such flaws for
the next five years, much less the next decade, in this Farm Bill.
Both of you have also made strong, public statements against the House Farm
Bill.  In an August 12, 2001, New York Times article, you argued that the
House Farm Bill was too narrowly focused on already-failed methods of
agricultural support, which include increased subsidies to large farmers
growing cotton, corn and wheat.  Instead, you argued, Farm Bill funds
should be spread more equitably to promote trade, conservation efforts,
rural development, and environmental protection.  You have both pledged to
promote a new kind of Farm Bill that is conscious of world trade issues as
well as the increasing importance, both economic and environmental, of
voluntary, incentive-based conservation practices on private lands.
Given your public commitments to these 21st century agriculture principles,

we believe your Senate Farm Bill can and will show true leadership in
promoting a more equitable, more effective, and far stronger national
agricultural policy for all of our nation's producers.  To this end, we
believe the Senate Farm Bill should include the following:
 Specialty Crop Provisions in the Commodity Title:  A $750 million/year
cost-of-production insurance program for non-program crops, or specialty
crops.  This program is outlined and unanimously agreed upon by the
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.  The current
House Farm Bill spends almost $115 billion on traditional commodities and
virtually nothing on the specialty crop sector.  We believe it is time for
Congress to recognize the diversity of our nation's crops and promote
risk-management tool for all producers.
 A $5.4 billion Conservation Title; A $5.4 billion conservation title will

ensure that we return to the historical balance between commodity and
conservation spending in previous farm bills.  We appreciate your strong
comments against the many harmful policy changes adopted in H.R. 2646 and
urge you to instead adopt program improvements that ensures a regionally
equitable distribution of the funding to allow farmers in all regions of
the country to participate.  For example, every state should be assured at
least $10 million annually in conservation spending
 CSA Payments in the Commodity Title: A national Conservation Security Act

that ensures regional equity of payments through state allocations based on

the agriculture market value.  Payments would be stipulated to allocate a
minimum of $10,000,000 and a maximum of $150,000,000 to any single state.

We look forward to working with you as you continue to finalize the Senate
Farm Bill.  We trust that your longstanding commitment to promoting
regionally equitable agricultural policies and strong conservation programs

will be evident in the bill you send to the Senate floor.  We are also
looking forward to seeing your good work on all titles of the Farm Bill,
including the rural development, forestry, and nutrition titles so
important to our region.

Thank you again for your leadership and your needed attention to these
regional and national concerns.

Sincerely,


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