LIMITING TRANSFER OF CERTAIN COMMODITY CREDIT CORPORATION FUNDS -- (House of Representatives - December 06, 2004)
Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the Senate bill (S. 2856) to limit the transfer of certain Commodity Credit Corporation funds between conservation programs for technical assistance for the programs.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. HOLDEN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.
I congratulate and thank the gentleman from Virginia (Chairman Goodlatte) and our subcommittee chairman, the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. LUCAS), for his hard work on this legislation. I would like to take a moment to congratulate and thank the ranking member of the committee, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. STENHOLM), on an outstanding congressional career. As we all know, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. STENHOLM) will be leaving us and not serving in the next Congress. But I just want to say to the gentleman that not only is the Committee on Agriculture going to miss his leadership; the entire agriculture community across the country is going to miss his guidance and his input. On a personal note I am truly going to miss his leadership, and I thank him for all of the help that he has given to me personally over the years.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of S. 2856, which will fix a problem with technical assistance funding for agriculture conservation programs. Our intent was to allow for farm bill programs to pay for themselves. However, due to different interpretations of the law and congressional rewriting, we are now in a situation in which major programs are paying for others.
There is a huge problem with donor programs such as the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, Grassland Reserve Program, and the Environmental Quality Incentive Program, providing technical assistance funding for the Conservation Reserve Program and Wetlands Reserve Program.
These donations continue to inhibit the implementation of these effective programs in the way that Congress intended. We must make sure that implementation reflects intent. It was never our plan to have key conservation programs act as donors for others. We need to correct this problem, and that is exactly what S. 2856 will do.
In fiscal year 2003, there were significant contributions being made by EQIP, Farmland Protection, WHIP, and the GRP to the Conservation Reserve Program and Wetlands Reserve Program. EQIP donated $57.6 million, Farmland Protection donated $18 million, WHIP gave $5.6 million, and Grasslands Reserve gave $9.5 million.
In my home State of Pennsylvania, these conservation programs are extremely important.
In fiscal year 2003, Pennsylvania received $8.4 million to fund 293 contracts throughout the EQIP program. There were actually 1,238 unfunded contracts totaling $35.4 million. In 2004, Pennsylvania received $11.9 million, a significant increase, but not enough to fund all of the contracts that are on hold.
The problem is the same for Farmland Protection, which is critical to Pennsylvania. In 2003, Pennsylvania received $4.9 million to protect 6,266 acres. In 2004, the State received less, approximately $4 million for the program.
Allowing vital programs such as EQIP and Farm and Ranchland Protection to be donors for other conservation programs only makes the funding backlog worse.
Therefore, I urge my colleagues to support S. 2856 and implement technical assistance funding for agriculture conservation programs the way in which Congress intended.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT