I'm happy to pass on the message below from Margaret Krome, who coordinates the National Campaign For Sustainable Agriculture's appropriations campaign.
I want to end 2007 by sharing the happy news of the results of your many phone calls, letters and visits on the Fiscal Year 2008 sustainable agriculture appropriations agenda. As you may have read in the paper, last night the House of Representatives signed off on a compromise omnibus appropriations bill for FY08 federal spending.
If you didn't happen to be in a state with a key agricultural appropriator, you can't imagine just hard your brethren in those states really poured on the action this year, with phone calls, letters and congressional visits. The National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture and our partner advocates want you to know that it made all the difference in the world. In a year with extremely tight budgets, several of our top priority programs got increases.
For example, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program finally got the increase that's been so long overdue, from $16.3 million in Fiscal Year 2007 to $19.0 million in FY08.
The Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) program had been wrongly treated as an earmark and slashed by 63% in FY07. For FY08 it will be funded at $2.6 million, which is a slight increase over the $2.5 million at which it had been funded for the six previous fiscal years before its funding was cut last year.
The Outreach and Technical Assistance Program for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (the "2501" program) will be funded at $6.4 million, up from $5.9 million last year.
And the funding caps that had been placed on the Conservation Security Program for so long were removed for FY08!
You know that the federal budget is under tremendous pressure. The sustainable agriculture movement is fortunate to have superb lobbyists in Washington. But they would be the first to say that the only way we could achieve gains like these in this budget climate is thanks to your contacting key members of Congress when we ask you to.
So thank you! If you made a call or wrote a letter or signed a sign-on letter when we asked you to do so regarding FY08 appropriations, you can end your year knowing that sustainable agriculture initiatives all over the nation will be better served next year thanks to your action.
Margaret Krome, Coordinator
Sustainable Agriculture Grassroots Appropriations Campaign"