Conservation on the Farm Bill

Faith Grant's picture

While the Senate Agriculture Committee was marking up the Farm Bill on Thursday, April 26th, the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing on conservation, the second of eight hearings the House will hold in order to write its version of the bill.  Witnesses testified that cuts to conservation beyond the $6 billion from the Senate would have severe consequences.

In a somewhat surprising turn, Ranking Member Collin Peterson (MN-07) came out strong against tying conservation compliance to crop insurance.  "Conservation compliance cannot work without damaging the whole insurance system.  I can't support a farmer losing insurance if found out of compliance.  I'm not against the idea of conservation compliance, but I don't see how it is realistic."  In line with OFRF’s priorities, Rep. Walz (MN-01) mentioned that research is critical in informing conservation practices. Many witnesses and Members also made a connection between conservation and beginning farmers, suggesting that we not only need to encourage young people to farm but also to be good land stewards.

Carl Homan, a dairy farmer from Pennsylvania, defended a strong funding base for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the program that uniquely helps farmers develop a whole farm conservation plan. He also recommended some changes to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), including the elimination of the unfair payment cap of $20,000 for the Organic Initiative. As the conservation title of the Farm Bill takes shape in the House and hits the Senate floor, we will have to continue fighting to prevent cuts to CSP and work to make sure EQIP is serving the needs of organic farmers.

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