Overview of President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request
On February 13, 2012, President Obama submitted a proposed federal budget for fiscal year (FY) 2013 to Congress. This marks the beginning of the annual budget and appropriations process in Congress. The following summarizes elements of the proposed budget that relate to League priorities across a range of issues, including agricultural conservation, clean water, fish and wildlife, land and water conservation, river restoration, and sustainable development.
The sections below require a brief introduction due to the complex interplay between annual budget requests and Congressional appropriations and the multi-year funding authorized by the Farm Bill. Farm Bills, including the last one enacted in 2008, authorize budgets for conservation and other programs for multiple years. The 2008 Farm Bill significantly increased authorized funding for conservation programs. The League strongly backed those increases and believes they should be honored in administration budget requests and by Congress in the annual appropriations process. However, successive administrations and Congresses have cut Farm Bill conservation funding by more than $4.4 billion since 2002. Unfortunately, the administration’s budget proposal continues that trend.
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) – The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) reduces soil erosion, protects water quality, and enhances habitat through long-term contracts with landowners that convert highly-erodible cropland to more sustainable vegetative cover. The administration’s FY 2013 budget for CRP proposes a reduction in the Farm Bill authorized acreage limit from 32 million to 30 million. It is encouraging to see the announcement of a general sign-up in FY 2012, but that does not alter the proposed cut to CRP’s mandatory authorization for FY 2013.
Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) – The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) provides technical and financial assistance to landowners to restore and protect wetlands on their properties. Wetlands are generally conserved through permanent or 30-year easements purchased by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Unfortunately, the president takes no action to request new funding for WRP, which expires with the current Farm Bill authorization in FY 2012. The League is disappointed with the administration’s proposal for WRP and urges Congress to continue the decades-long commitment made to the goals of the program.
Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) – The Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) focuses on limiting conversion of pasture and other grasslands to cropland or development while allowing landowners to continue grazing and other operations that align with this goal. In its budget, the administration would allow GRP funding to fall by more than 90 percent from this year. The League strongly opposes this action and again urges Congress to restore funding in FY 2013.
Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) – The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is a comprehensive approach to conserving soil, water, and other natural resources across a range of lands, including cropland, prairie, and forests. CSP makes conservation the basis for a producer to receive federal financial support rather than limitless subsidies for intensive production of a few crops. It is troubling that the administration’s FY 2013 budget is proposing to cut mandatory funding for CSP by $68 million. The League opposes this cut because CSP is a comprehensive, whole-farm approach to conservation that can maximize benefits to natural resources, fish and wildlife, and producers alike.
Incentives Program (WHIP) – The Wildlife
Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP)
helps agricultural landowners develop habitat
for upland and wetland wildlife
and threatened and endangered species.
The president’s FY 2013 proposal also seeks
to permanently reduce the
mandatory commitment established for WHIP in
the 2008 Farm Bill. The budget would cut
FY 2013 funding for WHIP
by $12 million. The League opposes this
damaging cut to a program with the central goal
of supporting wildlife
resources in rural
Clean Water Infrastructure – The administration requests approximately $2 billion to upgrade and modernize waste water and drinking water treatment systems nationwide. Outdated sewage treatment plants are major sources of water pollution and many public water supply systems require significant investment to improve treatment technology and replace deteriorating pipes. The League supports this request.
Recovery – The budget requests more than
$72 million, which is $15 million
more than appropriated for FY 2012, for the
Research and Analysis – The
administration’s budget would make
investments in fracturing-related research and
analysis through the Department
of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA), and U.S. Geological Survey
(USGS). Hydraulic fracturing involves
injecting large quantities of water along with
chemicals, sand, and other
materials under high pressure into rock
formations to fracture the rock and
release natural gas and other energy
The process is expanding rapidly across the
country, including in the
Marcellus region of
The proposed budget would augment research across a range of issues. For example, the USGS requests approximately $18 million, which is $13 million more than its current budget, for fracturing-related research. With this funding, USGS would prioritize research on water quality and supply, air quality, movement of methane gas during the drilling process, and the impacts of fracturing on landscapes, habitat, and other natural resources. EPA is requesting approximately $14 million in FY 2013 for research in this area. This will support an on-going EPA study assessing the impacts of fracturing on water resources throughout the “life cycle” of the process. This analysis takes a more holistic approach to the evaluating the range of potential impacts. The League supports these requests.
FISH AND WILDLIFE
National Wildlife Refuges – The budget requests about $495 million – approximately $9 million more than Congress provided in fiscal year 2012 – to operate and maintain 555 national wildlife refuges across the country. National wildlife refuges conserve fish, wildlife, and their habitat, provide incredible opportunities for hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation, and support local economic growth. At the same time, refuges face serious budget challenges, including a $3.6 billion backlog of operations and maintenance projects. The League strongly supports this request.
State and Tribal Wildlife Grants – The budget requests $61 million, which is equal to the amount appropriated by Congress for FY 2012, for State and Tribal Wildlife Grants. These grants help states and tribes to conserve a broad array of wildlife, including non-game species, based on priorities they established in Wildlife Action Plans. The League supports this request.
Open Fields – The budget requests $5 million for the Open Fields program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Open Fields, which the League helped to include in the 2008 Farm Bill, provides funding to states with programs that support access to private lands for hunting and fishing. The League supports this request.
and Control – Asian carp pose a serious
and potentially devastating threat
to the long-term health of the Great
Asian carp have been steadily migrating north
along the Mississippi
River and could reach the Great Lakes through a
system of canals that
artificially connect the Mississippi River and
budget for the
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) requests a $3
million increase to accelerate
research designed to detect, limit and control
carp in the Upper Mississippi
The budget for the Army
Corps of Engineers, which manages
the navigation system along the Upper
Mississippi River, includes $3 million to
continue studying options for restoring the
hydrologic separation between the
Great Lakes and
LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION
president requests $450 million for the Land
and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is
about $104 million more than Congress
appropriated for the current fiscal
year. LWCF funds are allocated to
the Department of the Interior and USDA Forest
Service for land acquisition across national
parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and other
federal public lands, and to support outdoor
recreation at the state and local
levels. A total of $270 million is
requested for federal land
acquisition. Within this amount,
Interior and the Forest Service propose to
allocate approximately $108 million to acquire
habitat in three high priority regions: the
Northern Rockies; Florida-Georgia Longleaf pine
ecosystem; and in a broad area around
Within the total requested for federal land acquisition, as much as $7.5 million ($5 million for the USDA Forest Service and $2.5 million for the Bureau of Land Management within the Department of Interior) would be allocated to purchase land or easements that would specifically expand access to public lands for hunting, angling, and other outdoor recreation. The League and many other national hunting, angling, and conservation groups support legislation in Congress that would annually allocate 1.5 percent of LWCF appropriations to achieve the same purpose. The League supports the total request for LWCF as well as the proposal to specifically allocate funds to augment public land access.
River – The
president requests $90 million for the Missouri
River Recovery Program, which
is about $18 million more than Congress
appropriated for fiscal year 2012. The
proposed increase would help fund the
Yellowstone Intake Project, which would build
fish passage systems benefiting
the pallid sturgeon and other fish on the
River – For the Upper Mississippi River,
the budget requests nearly $18
million for the Environmental Management
Program (EMP), which is administered
by the Army Corps of Engineers. The EMP
focuses exclusively on implementing and
evaluating restoration projects. As a
leader in protecting the
In our interconnected environment, how natural resources are used, managed, and protected half-way around the world often impacts us here at home. And rapid population growth in the world’s poorest countries is frequently one of the most significant threats to natural resources and the environment. Growing families clearing forests to grow food contribute to deforestation and millions of fishermen with small boats and nets deplete fish that migrate worldwide. Improved access to health care, family planning information, education, and economic development opportunities all contribute to smaller families. The administration’s budget requests nearly $643 million for family planning, healthcare, and integrated development programs around the world. The League supports this request.