Yes, it's another Alert from the National Campaign! We are sorry to deluge
you lately, but please remember -- this is the time of year when Congress
is funding (and cutting funding for) dozens of programs important to us
all. We must keep up the heat NOW during this short window of time.
Thanks for your action and for your patience.
>ACTION ALERT!! --
>KEEP THE PRESSURE ON for FUND FOR RURAL AMERICA!
>Tuesday, July 7, 1998
>We're STILL FIGHTING to save the Fund for Rural America. Please help keep
>the pressure on!
>Many of you acted on two previous action alerts to protect funding for the
>Fund for Rural America, which both houses' appropriations processes have
>zeroed out. We KNOW you called your U.S. senators, because your impact
>clearly registered with them. And your calls last week to Deputy Secretary
>Richard Rominger resulted in their starting a dialogue with us. THANK you!
>But we're not there yet. The issue continues to be not having an "offset"
>for the Fund - a place from which money can be taken to pay for its $60
>million. But, as you pointed out to Sec'y Rominger last week, the
>Administration's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has the capacity to
>release unobligated funds from previous years. Such unspent dollars from
>the Rural Community Advancement Program and Conservation Reserve Program
>are more than enough to cover the Fund. The OMB continues to refuse to
>release these dollars.
>The USDA has heard your concerns (when you call Rominger's office they're
>likely to say, "I suppose you're calling about the Fund!), but they just
>blame the OMB, quite ignoring that the OMB is answerable to the President
>and that its refusal reflects the Administration's failure to make this
>program a priority. We must go higher than the USDA to pressure the
>Administration to release offsets for the Fund.
>Fortunately, Senate floor action is put off until Tuesday July 14th. This
>gives us one week to convince the Administration to stop bluffing and
>seriously support the Fund. Senate floor action is our LAST CHANCE to
>restore the Fund's Fiscal Year 1999 funding!
>Please MAKE TWO CALLS (not e-mails) ASAP:
>* First, call Vice President Gore's office at (202) 456-2326 with the
>message, "I urge the Vice President to insure that the Administration makes
>the Fund for Rural America a top priority for Senate floor action on
>agricultural appropriations." Insist that they press OMB to release the
>necessary RCAP dollars to provide an offset for this crucial program. If
>you happen to get a staffer who just blames the OMB for refusing to release
>the funds, firmly but politely point out that OMB's refusal reflects the
>Administration's own failure to make the Fund a priority. The OMB answers
>to the President!
>* Second, keep calling Deputy Secretary Richard Rominger at 202-720-6158
>with the similar message, "I urge the Deputy to make the Fund for Rural
>America one of the Administration's very highest priorities for Senate
>floor action on agricultural appropriations."
>THANK YOU FOR CALLING ASAP!!
>For more information, call: Margaret Krome (608) 238-1440.
>Background (in case you didn't see it in earlier alerts):
>* Despite vocal support of the Fund for Rural America by the president and
>Secretary Glickman, their representatives on Capitol Hill have barely
>lifted a finger to stop Congressional appropriators from zeroing out the
>program's budget. Congress is on the verge of dumping the Fund for Rural
>America, slashing funds for this key program to zero. Begun in the 1996
>Farm Bill, this $60 million per year program helps meet the needs of rural
>communities for economic development, safe drinking water, and developing
>new agricultural markets. It is central to improved housing, education,
>technology and health care in rural areas. Part of the Fund supports
>competitively-awarded research to increase farming and rural economic
>opportunity and environmental performance. (At the bottom of this e-mail,
>we list a few examples of projects the Fund has supported. Also see
>www.reeusda.gov/fra for more information about the program.)
>* The Clinton Administration touts this program as the flagship of their
>efforts to support rural people, but they are standing by doing absolutely
>nothing while it slips beneath the waves. At the signing ceremony for the
>Agricultural Research, Extension and Education Act on Tuesday (6/23),
>Secretary Glickman said "I also want to recognize the strong commitment
>this bill makes to President Clinton's Fund for Rural America. Through
>rural development and research efforts, this Fund is helping rural farm
>communities compete in a new world. And, it is my sincere hope that as
>Congress moves through the appropriations process we will see this same
>bipartisan majority in action." In his own statement at that ceremony,
>President Clinton also expressed support for the Fund, noting that "some in
>Congress are working to undo the progress embodied in this bill."
>* Despite these statements, Administration representatives have done little
>or nothing to stop the Congress from choking off the entire budget for the
>Fund for Rural America. USDA and White House representatives have been
>largely silent while appropriators squashed the president's request to
>retain $60 million for the Fund. At the same time, the president's Office
>of Management and Budget (OMB) is refusing to release approximately $100
>million in unexpended balances for the Rural Community Advancement Program
>(RCAP) to provide the necessary offset to keep the Fund in business.
>* If the Fund is to survive in the Senate, the President must order his
>representatives to fight for the it and tell OMB to release unspent RCAP
>monies appropriated long ago for rural revitalization, to free up money for
>the Fund. He should make a commitment to veto any bill that does not fund
>this program that he and Secretary Glickman have made a cornerstone of
>their rural policy.
>Examples of Projects the Fund for Rural America has funded
>* A project improving management of forest resources by socially
>disadvantaged land owners in Alabama and other southern states, to improve
>environmental and economic performance of these lands $150,000
>* A project to establish Hopi owned and operated working demonstation farms
>with state-of-the art capabilities for sustainable agricultural production
>and marketing ($200,000)
>* A California project to increase sustainable agriculture adoption of
>sustainable agriculture, primarily biologically-based farming systems with
>positive impacts on the social and economic health of communities $400,000
>* A project planning for sustainable agriculture in the Central Valley of
>California, by developing and testing a computer-based decision making
>system for use by local governments $300,000
>* A project combatting run-off problems affecting the quality of drinking
>water in the Blue River Basin of Kansas and Nebraska ($400,000)
>* A project to develop the infrastructure necessary to successfully product
>new crops along the Southern Great Plains, such as buffalo grass, evening
>primrose, and nature grapes ($100,000)
>* A project developing tools to guide land use change in rural watersheds
>in Rhode Island and Connecticut ($220,000)
>* A Tennessee project to improve management and decision making practices
>production, in order to help producers evaluate alternative production
>including integrated systems, forage systems, and other approaches. $200,000
>* Use of small grains and cover crops in corn-soybean rotations in Upper
>Midwest to improve profitability and resource stewardship ($420,000)
>Michael Fields Agricultural Institute
>East Troy, WI
>home office: 2524 Chamberlain Ave.
> Madison, WI 53705
> (608) 238-1440 phone
> (608) 238-1569 fax
National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture
P.O. Box 396
Pine Bush, NY 12566
P: 914-744-8448; F: 914-744-8477
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