Letter to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate on Soil and Water Conservation Programs

March 27, 1984

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

I am pleased to transmit this report on the extent to which programs and policies recommended in the 1985 budget meet the standards in the Statement of Policy and recommended program for soil and water conservation programs sent to Congress on December 21, 1982.

1985 budget policy is designed to maintain strong economic growth and promote vigorous investment and rising productivity without setting off renewed inflation. The 1985 budget requests Congress to take a number of actions to cut Federal spending. They are necessary to avoid the specter of higher interest rates, choked-off investment, renewed recession, and rising unemployment. These policy objectives are especially important for the long-term well-being of the agricultural sector of the economy.

In the Statement of Policy, I indicated that future budgets for conservation programs would be consistent with overall economic and fiscal policy requirements and the need for resources for other national goals and interests. The 1985 budget for conservation activities proposes new budget authority of $725 million, $10 million or one percent less than the lower level of the recommended program. It is consistent with overall fiscal policy. It provides adequate resources for the most important conservation activities, technical assistance, soil surveys, and research and analysis, while recommending reductions for other activities that might be postponed or carried out by State and local governments or landowners themselves.

A key feature of the recommended program was the plan to target a larger share of conservation resources to critical problem areas. 1985 will be the third year of the five-year program under which the Department has been allocating additional assistance for soil and water conservation in these critical problem areas. In 1985, 15 percent of all technical assistance will be so targeted. The goal for 1987 is to target 25 percent of all technical and financial assistance. This policy is producing results as total soil savings is expected to be considerably more in 1985 than in 1983. Significantly, a much higher portion of the soil savings in 1985 will be on land where erosion rates are at their highest and most serious levels.

Finally, I have asked the Cabinet Council on Food and Agriculture, which is chaired by Secretary Block, to conduct a comprehensive review and assessment of current food and agriculture problems. One of the important tasks for the Council will be to develop recommendations for farm programs that will achieve both price support and conservation objectives.

I look forward to working with the Congress as you consider the budget recommendations and other aspects of conservation policy in the coming months.

Sincerely,

Ronald Reagan

Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr., Speaker of the House of Representatives, and George Bush, President of the Senate.