Legislative Update June 27, 2007
- Legislative Update June 27, 2007Congress is scheduled to be out of session June 30 to July 9 for the July 4th district work period. A dispute in Congress over how earmarks will be disclosed has delayed the legislative process. As a result we are still waiting on the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees to mark up their bills for Fiscal Year 2008.This creates another opportunity to reinforce the importance of restoring funding to RC&D at $56 million with your Members of Congress. As you may recall the Presidents budget has proposed cutting RC&D funding to $14.6 million by eliminating 325 coordinator positions and having only one RC&D coordinator per state. The national association has been meeting with Members of Congress on this issue throughout the spring to reinforce the messages local council members have sent to Congress. Keep up the good work!On a similar track in Congress is the Farm bill. The Farm bill is written every 5 years and provides an opportunity to propose changes to make the RC&D program work more effectively with local council member priorities. We are fortunate to have a champion in Congressman Zack Space of Ohio who has drafted legislation which includes NARC&DCs proposed changes for the RC&D program.On Tuesday May 22, 2007 the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research marked up the Conservation title of the Farm bill. The proposed farm bill includes some of our RC&D Farm bill recommendations:Specifically, the bill:1) Calls for an area planning process, for the RC&D program, which is locally led;2) Calls on the Secretary of Agriculture to designate a Coordinator for each Council to provide and assist in providing technical assistance;3) Adds to the technical assistance definition - providing assistance for the implementation of area plans and projects; and4) Adds to the technical assistance definition providing services which bring to bear the resources of Department of Agriculture programs in a local community as defined in the locally led planning process.The next step is for the Farm bill to go to full committee markup during the week of July 9 and then to the floor of the House for a vote the last week of July.The Senate will draft its own version of the Farm bill and may follow a similar legislative track in July. July will be a critical month for all our legislative priorities. We encourage you to stay tuned to our website and the list serv for additional updates.
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