Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04), Chairman of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, released the following statement after the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, Ms. Ann Mills; Acting Chief for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Mr. Jason Weller; and USDA Budget Director Mr. Mike Young testified before the Subcommittee.
"Much of USDA's Natural Resources and Environmental mission area focuses on helping farmers, foresters, ranchers, and private landowners maintain productive lands through joint conservation efforts," said Aderholt. "Preserving, protecting, and enhancing American land is an important mission with an important legacy--a legacy that cannot continue to exist without integrity and transparency."
"Over the years the activities of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) have been essential to countless farm and ranch families, but after another outside audit in 2012 identified several deficiencies in NRCS's financial statements. This Subcommittee has been concerned with the agency's management of its programs and financial systems for several years and with this latest audit we are increasingly concerned that few changes have been implemented. Though much of NRCS's funding is mandatory, our concerns about these continued deficiencies require us to provide even greater scrutiny of the agency's discretionary request of $808 million," continued Aderholt.
"With today's budgetary restrictions and the importance of the USDA's conservation work, we must be ever mindful of the investment taxpayers are making in federal programs. Though many may not know it, federal conservation programs have benefitted nearly all Americans and that is something this Subcommittee would like to see continue into the future. However, NRCS must find a way to improve its financial and accounting systems. I thank Ms. Mills and Mr. Weller for their testimony today and hope this Subcommittee sees NRSC's efforts to continue the great legacy of these programs, while being good stewards of taxpayer dollars," concluded Aderholt.
Aderholt currently serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies for the powerful House Appropriations Committee, is a member of the Committee's Commerce, Justice and Science; and Homeland Security Subcommittees, and also serves on the Helsinki Commission.