October 14, 2016
Seven years in the making, EWG's Conservation Database allows Americans to see exactly where billions of dollars in conservation funding have gone. The data, obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, is broken down by county.
“Used wisely and with the right incentives, farm conservation programs are making a difference in protecting our health, and improving our quality of life and the environment,” said Craig Cox, EWG Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources. “But we need to focus taxpayer dollars on getting the most effective practices in the right places to address the most urgent threats."
Data obtained by the EWG through FOIA requests show where federal conservation dollars have been spent on projects, including cover crops.
The data, obtained through 28 FOIA requests over seven years, show that since 2005 farmers and landowners have received $29.8 billion in payments through four conservation initiatives funded by Congress and administered by USDA.
-Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, $318 million
-Conservation Reserve Program, $20 billion
-Environmental Quality Incentives Program, $7.4 billion
-Conservation Stewardship Program, $2.2 billion
The data confirm the growing recognition that voluntary programs alone are insufficient. Voluntary conservation programs in the federal farm bill can play an important role, but they aren't leading to clean water, clean air and a healthy environment.
“It’s more than fair to expect farmers and landowners to do more to protect the environment in return for the generous farm and insurance subsidies they receive,” Cox said. “Americans across the country are seeing the price of farm pollution firsthand. It's time for Congress to deliver a return on their tax dollars by requiring farmers who take money from these programs to do more to protect the environment and public health."
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