LET CSP needs to be top congressional priority

As Congress returns to Washington after the August recess, the first order of business is the 2004 budget.

That means the appropriations bills will need to be finalized and passed in September, including agricultural appropriations.

One thing that needs to be a top priority for funding for 2004 is the Conservation Security Program, which was passed by Congress to improve conservation on working farms, and to make payments to farmers who are accomplishing it.

The 2002 farm bill authorized funds so that all farmers who sign up for the CSP and meet the qualifications will be in the program. The CSP should particularly benefit farmers in southeast Minnesota, many of whom could qualify due to their use of forages, pastures, or soil-conserving crop rotations.

In terms of conservation, the CSP is very important all across our country to assist our farmers in caring for our nation's land.


Unfortunately, the U.S . House in June slashed all of USDA's funding to actually implement the CSP. Luckily, the Senate maintained the funding. That means in September a joint House-Senate conference committee on ag appropriations will meet to decide the fast of CSP.

Our U.S. representative in southeast Minnesota is Gil Gutknecht. My husband and I met with Gutknecht at our farm in the fall of 1994, just before he went to Congress. He said some good things then about conservation and family farms, as he has since.

But now he needs to act. Rep. Gutknecht should publically and officially call on the U.S. House to provide full funding for CSP in 2004, to show he means what he has said about family farms and conservation. It is important for southeast Minnesota and the nation.

-- Jennifer S. Rupprecht, Lewiston, MN.

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