As federal lawmakers prepare to vote for the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, agricultural producers in New Mexico share their concerns about recent and proposed cuts to a host of conservation programs. The Agriculture Appropriations bill passed in June has already dramatically cut funding for critical farm programs, and with these additional cuts in the Interior bill, there will be reduced funding in many conservation areas critical to our land, water and food supply. The Nature Conservancy in New Mexico works closely with producers throughout the state.
The Nature Conservancy opposes the bill. So do the farmers and ranchers.
Roy Creamer, Carlsbad, NM: Roy’s been ranching all of his life. The family’s third generation of ranchers is working the land today.
“We can live three minutes without air, 3 days without water and 30-40 days without food. How long can we live without these other things that we’re concerned about? We need to take care of things that are essential to life. If they do away with farmers there will be hungry people and thirsty people.”
John Clemmons, Elida, NM: John’s family has been in agriculture since 1906.
“I would encourage lawmakers to leave a safety net for producers to help them get through drought, floods and other natural disasters. The funding would be enough to help them stay in business and provide for their family.”
Willard Heck, Causey, NM: Willard has been managing the Weaver Ranch for nearly 20 years.
“Most of our soils are highly erodible which means they’re susceptible to wind erosion and it’s questionable they should have been plowed in the first place. The cuts in the Agriculture bill to programs like CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) negatively impact rural economy, encourage farming on land that’s marginable and decrease air quality, in areas with highly erodible soil. To have cuts in all of these conservation programs is extremely short-sighted in my opinion. Conservation programs are also important for wildlife.”
“Conservation is a huge wildlife and rural development issue. If we force people to plow it up, we’ll go back to dust bowl days.”
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.