Earth's Bounty: Conservation Groups Want Piece of Farm Bill Pie

The Farm Bill is moving through Congress this summer. Conservation groups want more money spent on land conservation and other environmental programs.

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Hi, this is Jennifer Szweda Jordan with a report in our Earthís Bounty series on food and the environment. The Farm Billís heating up in the U-S Congress.

Food prices, water conservation, and even fuels are affected by the Farm Bill. The Bill is up for renewal this year as it is every five years. Special interest groups are starting to lobby for their causes.

A coalition of environmental groups want 10 (B) billion dollars in new funding for conservation programs in this yearís farm bill.

Martha Noble, with the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, says that the Energy Bill created incentives to grow corn for biofuels.

NOBLE: And thatís basically for the next few years, more production on agricultural land, so weíre going to need this conservation spending more than ever.

In Pennsylvania, landowners took in about one billion dollars in subsidies between 1995 and 2005. Thatís the most recent period for which records are available. The largest chunk of money ñ nearly 400 million dollars went for corn crops, while 118 million went for conservation and environmental quality incentive programs. Those figures come from a newly released database from Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit.

The House Agriculture Committee will be looking closely at the farm bill this month and the legislation is expected to be complete by September. For The Allegheny Front, Iím Jennifer Szweda Jordan.