Defenders Applauds Harkin Conservation Victory

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(07/25/2001) - WASHINGTON -- Senator Tom Harkin’s victory today in winning committee approval of funding in the FY2002 Agriculture Supplemental bill for key agricultural conservation programs is "the best news stewardship-minded farmers have received from Washington, D.C., in a very long time," said Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife.

Senator Harkin, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, overcame opposition from the White House and committee Republicans to fund the Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program (WHIP), Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), and the Farmland Protection Program (FPP). These programs were not funded in President Bush’s budget proposal for FY2002.

"We deeply appreciate the stand Senator Harkin took for farmers who want to protect the environment, and for all Amercians who stand to benefit from their stewardship," said Schlickeisen. "It’s a real shame that the Senator had to take on the White House, which would have left thousands of conservation-minded farmers across the country high and dry.

All along the campaign trail, the President talked a great game about locally-led, voluntary conservation programs, but if he meant what he was saying, he should have supported these programs."

The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program (WHIP) and the Farmland Protection Program (FPP) are extremely popular with stewardship-minded farmers, offering them a means to improve conservation performance on their farms with projects of their own design. These programs, while chronically under-funded in the past, were not funded at all in the president’s budget and the House appropriation for 2002, despite a backlog of thousands of approved, farmer-initiated proposals. These proposals represented more than a million acres and habitat for a host of wildlife species.

"Senator Harkin’s action on this supplemental really bodes well for the bigger picture, which is consideration later this year of the overall Farm Bill reauthorization," said Schlickeisen. Conservation and environmental groups have increased dramatically their efforts on agricultural conservation in recent weeks, including launching a series of television advertisements last week that urged senators to restore funding for these important voluntary conservation programs.

Click here for more information on these programs and the importance of conservation initiatives for America’s family farmers.

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Defenders of Wildlife is a leading nonprofit conservation organization recognized as one of the nation's most progressive advocates for wildlife and its habitat. With more than 430,000 members and supporters, Defenders of Wildlife is an effective leader on environmental issues.

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Contact(s):

Cat Lazaroff, (202) 772-3270

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