For Immediate Release
Contact Laura Zaks
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)
Release: NSAC Applauds Support for Working Land Conservation Programs in Senate Subcommittee Hearing
Washington, DC, April 20, 2023 – Today, the Senate Subcommittee on Conservation, Climate, Forestry and Natural Resources held a hearing entitled: “Conservation in the Farm Bill: Making Conservation Work for Farmers and Ranchers.” Witnesses spoke about the importance of federal conservation programs that support soil health and on-farm infrastructure, and that provide streamlined access opportunities to help build future generations of farmers prepared to meet the challenges of climate change.
“The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is pleased to hear such productive dialogue around improving working lands conservation programs from the Senate Subcommittee on Conservation, Climate, Forestry and Natural Resources,” said Jesse Womack, NSAC Policy Specialist. “Both witnesses and Members of Congress today highlighted the need to both invest in these programs as well as the people that support farmers accessing them, whether those people are employed by the Natural Resource Conservation Service or trusted conservation partners working directly with producers every day. Congress needs to support both people and programs for conservation efforts to succeed. We are hopeful that the Senate Subcommittee will champion key investments and improvements in working lands as the Farm Bill is reauthorized and thank its members for their leadership.”
Witnesses at the hearing included Mr. Paul Bruchez, rancher and owner at Reeder Creek Ranch, in Kremmling, CO; Mr. Ray Flickner, farmer and owner of Flickner Farms of Wichita, KS; Mr. Joseluis Ortiz y Muniz, Vice President of La Merced de San Antonio del Embudo Land Grant and Mayordomo for the Acequia del Llano del Embudo, in Dixon, NM; Mr. Jeff Rutledge, partner at Rutledge Farms in Newport, AR; and Dr. Sara Porterfield, Western Water Policy Advisor for Government Affairs at Trout Unlimited in Boulder, CO.
The conversation centered on how best to pair national solutions with local leadership as farmers across the country work to adapt to climate change.
“Look at the Agriculture Resilience Act… it has six key pillars that will address a myriad of natural resource issues: increasing research, improving soil health, protecting existing farmland and supporting farm viability, supporting pasture based livestock systems, boosting investments in on-farm energy initiatives, and reducing food waste,” Mr. Joseluis Ortiz y Muniz told the Subcommittee. Ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator John Boozman (D-AR), responded, “That’s great. Those sound like six great pillars.”
“The CSP program was really successful for us, very helpful as a producer… [It incentivizes] people to put in new conservation practices, but also rewards producers for doing conservation practices that take some money to implement,” Mr. Jeff Rutledge told the Committee. He then noted that “After the 2014 Farm Bill, the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), in my county alone, had over 100,000 acres enrolled and brought in $15,000,000 to the county. That’s a big boost to the rural economy. After the 2018 Farm Bill… we now have around 9,000 acres and $1,000,000. So that is the gutting that the CSP program took (during the 2018 Farm Bill), in our area.”
“NSAC applauds Mr. Rutledge and Mr. Ortiz y Muniz for highlighting the need to correct historic disinvestment in key programs like CSP and pointing to clear legislative solutions to that disinvestment via the Agriculture Resilience Act,” added Womack.
About the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities. Learn more and get involved at: https://sustainableagriculture.net