Value-Added Producer Grants Program (VAPG) and the Conservation Security Program (CSP)

The letter below was sent to these members of the United States Senate:

Republicans Democrats
Senator Robert Bennett, UT (CH)
Senator Thad Cochran (MS)
Senator Arlen Specter (PA)
Senator Christopher Bond (MO)
Senator Mitch McConnell (KY)
Senator Conrad Burns (MT)
Senator Larry Craig, (ID)
Senator Sam Brownback
Senator Herb Kohl (WI) (Ranking)
Senator Tom Harkin (IA)
Senator Byron Dorgan (ND)
Senator Diane Feinstein (CA)
Senator Richard Durbin (IL)
Senator Tim Johnson (SD)
Senator Mary Landrieu (LA)

July 4, 2003

To: (see above)
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear ,

On behalf of PCC Natural Markets, we urge you to oppose the deep cuts made to the Value-Added Producer Grants Program (VAPG) and the Conservation Security Program (CSP) in the House FY04 agriculture appropriations. PCC is the nation's largest consumer-owned cooperative grocery retailer representing 40,000 member households. We work closely with farmers and food processors and see substantial benefits from both programs.

Although it's a new program, the VAPG already has helped farmers and ranchers develop new markets, products and cooperatives, and returned a greater share of food system profits to farmers and their communities. In Washington State, it provided critical support for a dairy cooperative to compete against foreign imports of milk protein concentrate. It expanded the market for Omega-3 eggs in the West, for value-added oyster products in Mexico and China, and for renewable energy projects involving wind turbines, grain and grass straw.

While the projects have merit on their own, collectively they also contribute to our national security. Strong regional producer cooperatives make the United States less vulnerable to outside forces that can affect food supplies and energy sources alike.

The CSP has provided financial assistance to farmers who are trying to solve resource and environmental problems affecting soil, water, air, and wildlife by adopting sustainable practices. The CSP serves all regions of the country and all types of crop and livestock agriculture. In strengthening agricultural sustainability, CSP also enhances our food security.

Severe cuts to these programs may address a short-term funding problem for FY04 appropriations. In the long-term, however, they'll increase pressures on rural areas and hurt the ability of farmers to create new opportunities that allow them to remain in business. We urge the Senate to maintain funding for the Value-Added Producer Grants program at $40 million for FY2004.

Sincerely,

Tracy Wolpert, Chief Executive Officer

Randy Lee, Chief Financial Officer

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