HTML _ IB95027 - Soil and Water Conservation: Policy Issues for the 1995 Farm Bill
29-Dec-1995; Jeffrey Zinn; 13 p.

Abstract: Resource conservation topics are a part of the farm bill debate. The 104th Congress has held hearings exploring conservation themes and heard from many interests, most of whom have announced proposals and positions. The Clinton Administration announced guidance on farm bill issues on May 10, 1995. Congress is both reviewing existing programs and considering new approaches. Debate on existing programs focuses on reauthorization of the Conservation Reserve Program and possible amendments to the reserve, swampbuster, and conservation compliance. New approaches may include increasing program effectiveness and efficiency, explicitly addressing private property rights, and identifying opportunities to tie together agricultural interests with pending environmental legislation. Numerous proposals dealing with these topics have been introduced. An important component in deliberations in this Congress is the conservation budget. While it was significantly reduced in FY1995, FY1996 appropriations (P.L. 104-37) provide constant funding overall, and even increased some programs. The House budget resolution for FY-1996 (H.Con.Res. 67) would reduce or terminate most conservation programs, while the Senate budget resolution (S.Con.Res. 13) is not specific. Congress passed reconciliation legislation (H.R.2491), which would implement the funding levels set in the budget resolution through 2002. It included provisions to amend and extend the Conservation Reserve and Wetland Reserve Programs and create a new cost-sharing Livestock Environmental Assistance Program; net savings attributable to these provisions are $342 million. President Clinton vetoed this bill. Other conservation issues remain to be addressed in separate farm bill legislation, now being referred to as the ¨rump farm bill.¨ Representative Allard, chair of the House Agriculture subcommittee dealing with conservation, introduced a conservation title (H.R. 2542) on Oct. 26, 1995. The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Resource Conservation marked up a substitute version of H.R. 2542 on Nov. 8, 1995. Senators Dole, Lugar, Craig, and Grassley introduced a conservation title (S. 1373) on Nov. 1, 1995. According to committee staff, this bill will be replaced before the committee acts. Behind many of the specific proposals is the continuing question whether traditional approaches to soil conservation can be expanded to accommodate broader environmental concerns in agriculture, or whether new approaches and programs are needed. Support for traditional approaches has been voiced by key agricultural leaders in the 104th Congress. The conservation debate has changed from earlier years. In 1985 and 1990, when the two most recent farm bills were enacted, Congress created many new initiatives and greatly expanded the conservation agenda. The debate this year is centered on addressing existing problems and decreasing activities viewed by some as excessive and disruptive [read report]

Topics: Agriculture

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