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Crapo Announces Conservation Hearing

On Earth Day, calls farm bill a major environmental initiative

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Forestry, Conservation, and Rural Revitalization, chose today, Earth Day, to announce that he will hold a subcommittee hearing on agriculture conservation next month. Crapo chose today to make the announcement as a reminder of the programs in the farm bill that benefit the environment. Crapoâ??s subcommittee hearing will be held May 11, 2004. It starts at 10:00 a.m. in 628 Dirksen Senate Office Building. The subcommittee will conduct a hearing to examine the conservation programs from the 2002 Farm Bill. Crapo said, â??I have long said the farm bill is one of the largest and most successful environmental legislative initiatives Congress deals with. The 2002 farm bill with its historic increase for conservation programs demonstrates the commitment of the President and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the Capitol to real solutions that benefit the environment. This hearing gives us an opportunity to see how we are doing.â?? The 2002 farm bill included $17 billion in spending for conservation programs, an 80 percent increase in support. The bill reauthorized and expanded numerous programs that help farmers and ranchers while addressing environmental concerns. â??While farmers and ranchers have long been tremendous stewards of the land, they also face great pressure to meet increasing public demands for cleaner air and water, greater soil conservation, increased wildlife habitat, and more open space. The conservation programs of the farm bill help them meet those goals. I am looking forward to examining how USDA has been addressing the needs of our food and fiber producers and finding ways to benefit the environment. The NRCS creation of the Salmon Habitat Restoration Initiative within the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program is a good example of how NRCS is targeting specific environmental concerns in the Pacific Northwest. The subcommittee hearing will examine successful set-aside programs like the Conservation Reserve Program and Wetlands Reserve Program and working lands programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Act, Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, the Grasslands Reserve Program, and the Conservation Security Program. Todayâ??s announcement comes as President Bush used Earth Day to announce his intent to restore as many as three million acres of wetlands over the next five years. # # #