56 Groups Release Conservation Principles to Guide Farm Bill Debate
September 29th, 2011
On Wednesday, September 28, a national coalition of 56 policy and advocacy organizations, including NSAC, released a set of key principles to help guide lawmakers as they write the Conservation Title of the 2012 farm bill and seek ways to trim the federal deficit.
According to the group’s press release, the 56 organizations are asking Congress to:
- Put a high priority on funding critical conservation programs at the current baseline level of $6.5 billion a year.
- Strengthen and enforce provisions that require farmers to implement basic conservation practices in return for farm subsidies and extend them to insurance subsidies.
- Target conservation dollars where the opportunities for conservation and environmental outcomes are greatest.
- Streamline existing programs by reducing unnecessary administrative burdens and ramp up their effectiveness by linking payments to performance and focusing more on whole-farm and whole-ranch conservation systems.
- Ensure that all segments of the farming community – women, minorities and beginning farmers – have access to funding and technical assistance.
You can download the full Conservation Title Principles from the NSAC website.
According to Ferd Hoefner, NSAC’s Policy Director, “With heightened pressures on the agricultural resource base and with farmer demand for conservation assistance far outstripping the supply of dollars, we need a robust system now more than ever. Congress can meet the challenge if it pays careful attention to these principles.”
NSAC member groups, Izaak Walton League of America, Illinois Stewardship Alliance, and Defenders of Wildlife also released statements on the principles.
“In a clearly transitional environment for agriculture policy, where crop insurance has become the dominant means of public support to producers and special congressional committees may be poised to re-write the broad system of production subsidies, conservation compliance will still serve as a simple and logical covenant between the public and producers that ensures soil and wetland protections accompany the receipt of taxpayer dollars,” said Brad Redlin, agricultural program director at the Izaak Walton League of America.
“It is critical that the 2012 farm bill funds programs that show proven soil and water conservation benefits and that are open to all sectors of agriculture production, including fruit, vegetable and organic growers. Local foods production and delivery is a growing industry and needs to be treated equally,” said Claudia Emken, conservation policy advocate for the Illinois Stewardship Alliance.
Tim Male, vice president for conservation policy at Defenders of Wildlife, stated “There are many ways to improve the farm bill’s environmental impact without increasing funding. Streamlining programs and better focusing where and how dollars are spent would beef up the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s positive impact on wildlife, water and our environment.”
Other NSAC member group signatories include the Land Stewardship Project, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Union of Concerned Scientists, Future Harvest-Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, Humane Society of the United States, Iowa Environmental Council, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, National Center for Appropriate Technology, Nebraska Wildlife Federation, Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, Oregon Tilth, and the Organic Farming Research Foundation.
Collectively, the 56 organizations supporting the conservation principles represent millions of members and supporters nationwide across a variety of ideologies and interests. We have worked successfully to protect conservation programs and advocate for additional funding in previous farm bills and will continue to work together as the 2012 farm bill process unfolds.