Garrett Amendment For Natural Resources Conservation Service Passes House
Rep. Scott Garrett's (R-NJ) amendment for the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Conservation Operations Account passed the House of Representatives by voice vote late Wednesday night.
Garrett's amendment to H.R. 2997, the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, does not increase government spending, it increases funding for the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Conservation Operations Account by $5 million by reallocating money from the Farm Service Agency Salaries and Expenses Account.
Garrett gave the following remarks on the floor to advocate for his amendment:
"Mr. Chairman, my amendment would add $5 million to the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Conservation Operations Account and subtract $5 million from the Farm Service Agency Salaries and Expenses Account. More than 80% of the funds under the NRCS Conservation Operations Account provide technical support to help farmers and other land owners conserve and protect their land and resources.
"Currently, there is a significant backlog of requests for conservation assistance and many farmers are turned away by the USDA when they apply to participate in conservation programs due to insufficient funding. New Jersey, my home state, is one of the most densely populated states in the country and more and more scarce land disappears everyday. Our farmers are eager to share in the cost of protecting our environment and we must ensure that they have the knowledge and ability to do so in the appropriate manner.
"I would like to commend Chairwoman DeLauro and Ranking Member Kingston for their hard work in attempting to address this important issue.
"While I support the Farm Service Agency, their Salaries and Expenses Account under the bill is slated for a $92 million increase. With so many of our nation's farmers struggling to conserve their land and with development rapidly eating up our cherished resources, I believe it is a priority to provide additional funding to the NRCS so we can continue to protect our nation's open space.
"More than 19 years ago, when I first ran for public office in the very densely populated State of New Jersey, I believed that we were not doing enough to preserve our precious farmlands and our vital open space. I believe this amendment continues to move us towards that goal and I would ask all of my colleagues for their support."