Daily Archives: September 9, 2014

Funding for critical farm bill conservation programs in danger!

                                                                                                National Issues

The House FY 2015 agriculture appropriations bill proposes to cut $109 million (more than 1 million acres) from the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), $209 million from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and $60 million from the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).

The agriculture appropriations bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee would cut EQIP spending by $250 million, but would not cut funding for the other conservation programs.  All of these cuts are from the levels approved by Congress earlier this year when it passed the 2014 Farm Bill.

On top of conservation cuts, the House bill slashes the farm bill funding for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) by 40 percent, from $50 million to $30 million.  REAP helps farmers adopt renewable energy (such as wind and solar) and energy conservation technologies.

The ink barely had time to dry on the new farm bill before these attempts to unravel the decisions on conservation and renewable energy funding.  Not included in either appropriations bills are any similar proposed changes or cuts to commodity or crop insurance subsidies.

The proposed cuts to conservation and renewable energy programs would result in increased water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, soil erosion, and habitat loss, and should be rejected in upcoming negotiations.

Contact your congressman and Senators and let them know how you feel about fully funding conservation programs at the levels they agreed to in the 2014 Farm Bill.


Broad-billed Hummingbird (Cyanthus latirostris) Photo by Tom Grey http://tgreybirds.com

Broad-billed Hummingbird (Cyanthus latirostris) Photo by Tom Grey http://tgreybirds.com

Broad-billed Hummingbird (Cyanthus latirostris) Photo by Tom Grey

Although the hummingbird is tiny, it exhibits prodigious feats. In order to hover at a nectar-producing flower, its wings beat typically 50-80 times per second, its heart beats up to 1250 beats per minute, its breathing rate is 250 breaths per minute. They visit hundreds of flowers a day to acquire just enough energy to survive overnight. During the summer in North America they must add enough fat reserves to sustain them during migration flights across the Gulf of Mexico to wintering sites in Central America or Mexico. Ten different types visit Kansas including the Broad-billed hummingbird shown in the photo above. Hummingbirds co-evolved with specific flowers that are only pollinated by birds with long slender beaks that can reach the narrow tubular flower structures containing nectar. These structures ensure contact between the pollinating hummingbird and the stamen and stigma that results in pollination. Hummingbirds are extinct everywhere except the Americas. Their nests are also tiny and often have bits of lichen attached to them.